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  President's Message

Dr Bryce Lee APOS President (2016-18)

One APOS, One Voice – are we still relevant?

The Asian Pacific Orthodontic Society (APOS) was formed by a few good men (and women) because there was a void in the region. We needed to get together to learn, teach and share orthodontics.

The motto “One APOS, One Voice” was subsequently coined by my predecessor Dr Nikhilesh Vaid when he took office.

The APOS comprises 18 society members from the region. We come from a region as far north as northern China, as far south and east as New Zealand and as far west as Pakistan. Our backgrounds are as diverse as the landscapes of our homes and we don’t share a common language or religion. The GDP per capita of the places we come from range from US$52,888 to US$805 (IMF data, 2015). Or, if we use the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) index, which takes into account individual inflation and cost of living, the difference is even greater, ranging from International $85,382 to International $2,465 (IMF data, 2015).

The question will arise. How can a Society of societies from such contrasting environments speak as “one voice”? Are we relevant? My knee jerk reply to the latter is “even more so today”.

Before I explain to you why I feel this way, let me share with you an anecdote. A few of us were in a lounge after the day’s lectures at a recently concluded meeting in the APOS region. We had known each other from previous APOS – related gatherings. Our bond with each other went beyond our profession and the conversation we engaged in reflected this relationship. The gentleman at the next table struck up a conversation with us and he asked where we came from (expecting a one word, one country answer). You could see the astonishment on his face when each of us told him that we came from a different region of the Asia Pacific.

This is not the first time it has happened mind you. In fact, an APOS fellow once remarked to me “I see you more often than I see my relatives.” I laughed, shook his hand warmly, wondering if that was meant to be a compliment or a complaint.

We live in a world that changes in a blink of an eye. The pace of which is unceasing and quickening. For example the first practical steam engine, the greatest invention during the industrial revolution, was invented in late 1600s. It took more than a century before this was adapted to be used in locomotives for mail delivery. In contrast, the beginning of the Internet revolution started as packet network systems in the middle of the 1960s. In less than 2 decades the World Wide Web was developed by Tim Berners-Lee. Less than 10 years later Email changed the way we communicate to all corners of the world.

The region that we live in is blessed with the fastest economic and technological growth in the world. We cannot allow the Art and Science of Orthodontics to be left behind in our region. The APOS has an obligation to ensure that we get on this ride.

I recently had a meeting with the Office Bearers of the APOS. Apart from taking care of our administrative responsibilities, I gave them 2 goals to meet. Firstly to ensure that as many home associations in the region are involved in the APOS as possible. Secondly, to ensure that no fellow or association gets left behind.

I told them the idea was simple but the work was hard. In fact, impossible without the help of all fellows of the APOS. How can a fellow of the APOS help? 3 words I previously stated; Learn, Teach, Share.

It is the responsibility and indeed the obligation of every professional to keep current. No one stops learning. We are grateful for the researchers and innovators amongst us, for their thirst in learning and exploring new boundaries. Some are world-renowned, some lesser known but all are doing good work. Then there are the majority of us who need to take full advantage of this work being done and to put it into ethical practice. The avenues for learning are many in today’s world. Free access journals (like the APOS Trends in Orthodontics) are many. Meetings of minds both locally and regionally are available to every professional. However, if you do not take advantage of such resources it will become a vicious cycle and the quality of these resources may suffer. So help us to help you.

When I say teach I don’t just mean offering yourselves to institutions to educate our younger colleagues. The broader meaning of this involves tossing ideas around with peers. Many senior colleagues have told me that they learn much from peers far more junior than them. I personally enjoy interactions with my local residents because I am forced to learn and keep updated and I, in turn, learn much from my conversations with them. Again, forums and occasions like these are available in particular at the annual meetings of all our member societies. I am also heartened to know that many member associations also plan residents’ forums for our younger colleagues. I personally enjoy residents’ forums because I enjoy interacting with the future of our profession. Seeing the energy and passion in their faces is a real inspiration. I take this opportunity to remind you that the second APOS Residents’ Forum will be held in Boracay, the Philippines in March 2018 in conjunction with the 11th Asian Pacific Orthodontic Conference (APOC).

Dr Allan Thom, President, World Federation of Orthodontists, said in his speech in Bali during the 10th APOC, that we are a privileged few in a very envious profession. I totally agree and so does the report by US News® that ranks orthodontists as having the number 1 job in the US. We all agree that society has been kind to us and we must therefore give back. This involves sharing our expertise, time and financial rewards with society. Sharing also includes your involvement in your professional societies. No man is an island and it takes many like-minded and capable individuals to ensure that we progress. The APOS is no exception.

By sheer numbers, we are the largest region in the world. And the world has sat up and taken notice. The writing is on the wall. WE ARE THE REGION OF THE FUTURE.

So are we relevant? Very much so. More so than “One APOS, One Voice”. If Dr Vaid would allow me, I would say “One APOS, One Family, One Voice”.

The APOS Executive Committee 2014-16

The APOS Executive Committee 2016-18: (L-R) Dr Yanheng Zhou (Vice President),Dr Nikhilesh Vaid(Immediate Past President),Dr Bryce Lee(President),Dr Zakir Hossain(Treasurer),Dr Roberto Tan (Secretary General).

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