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Representatives from national orthodontic certification boards share information, offer suggestions as to how the WFO could assist boards

The 6th International Orthodontic Congress (IOC) brought the world of orthodontics together in more ways than one. With the goal of sharing ideas and information, 30 representatives from several national orthodontic certification boards convened during this unique forum. In addition, the participants offered suggestions as to how the WFO could help foster the growth and value of certification boards. Dr. James Moss, chairman of the IOC Committee on Orthodontic Boards, reported the results of the discussions to the 6th IOC attendees on Monday, September 12, 2005.

The participants represented The American Board of Orthodontics, the Australian Orthodontic Board, the Brazilian Board of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, the Consejo Mexicano de Ortodoncia y Ortopedia Dentomaxilofacial, the European Board of Orthodontists, the French Board of Orthodontics, the German Board of Orthodontics, the Italian Board of Orthodontics and the New Zealand Association of Orthodontists.

“This meeting was important as it identified the functions of the various boards, which are very different in each country,” Dr. Moss said. “It enabled people to appreciate why the boards in the different countries had been set up and how they function. Some of the boards are educational in nature and provide a means for licensing specialists. Others are voluntary and exist to protect the public. In some countries, board certification is necessary for both licensing and protecting the public. This mutual understanding helped the members of the boards to see ways in which they could benefit and help each other.”

The representatives discussed eligibility, criteria for certification exams, the selection of examiners and the importance of recertification. Dr. Moss also reported on the results of the survey of orthodontic boards that he had conducted.

The participants learned that, in most countries, fewer than 25 percent of the orthodontists are board certified. The representatives then discussed methods to encourage greater participation in the certification process, including the use of user-friendly testing procedures, marketing the value of board certification to orthodontists and the public, and certifying orthodontic faculty who could then encourage students to become board certified.

The group also debated whether an international board would be helpful to the national boards. The consensus was favorable, Dr. Moss reported, but the representatives realize that one international board would not be feasible due to the diversity of boards among the various nations. Instead, the group stated its support for an umbrella organization that would represent the national boards and would foster cooperation, collaboration and the sharing of ideas. The group suggested that the WFO become involved in the promotion of such an organization.

“Boards across the world have evolved to meet the needs of their own professional situations,” Dr. Moss said. “In view of the diversity of languages and situations, there can never be one international orthodontic board. However, an affiliation of orthodontic boards would help countries form boards and prove to be of mutual benefit to the affiliated boards.”
The representatives also requested that the WFO maintain a list of the various national certification boards, as well as their officers, to help foster communication and growth.

“The WFO Executive Committee is interested in the results of this meeting and will carefully review the participants’ suggestions to determine the best way for the WFO to assist certification boards,” said Dr. Athanasios E. Athanasiou, president of the WFO. “There is no doubt that existing national or regional boards influence positively the qualifications of certified orthodontic specialists and have great impact in upgrading the quality of orthodontic services provided by them. The conclusions of the Paris meeting on this subject and the suggestions for WFO involvement would be one of the issues to be discussed by the new Executive Committee.”