Trustee Update: AAO CAP

Dr. John Callahan

Dr. John Callahan NESO Trustee

Do you ever ask yourself, “why am I paying a CAP assessment to the AAO?” Many of you probably do and, it’s a great question!

After dues notices went out in June I received an e-mail from a member asking “why” and noting that they NEVER see anything so why pay it! It made me think that it was time to revisit this for everyone.

Here’s a little background refresher: We annually survey all AAO members to determine what the AAO does that they find valuable. According to these surveys the top 3 most valuable resources we provide to our members are: 1. Advocacy at the State/Provincial and Federal level; 2. The AAO Annual Session and education; and 3. The AAO CAP (Consumer Awareness Program).

The AAO CAP is a stand-alone program that the AAO House of Delegates approves.  The House also approves the Consumer Awareness Program budget and the individual member assessment.  Most recently the House approved continuation of a $5 million fiscal year CAP budget and a $500 member assessment.  The member assessment covers a good portion of the annual CAP budget with the rest drawn from our AAO reserves.  The House and our AAO leaders work to keep the assessment as low as possible for our members.

Now, a reminder of what the CAP does: The AAO CAP is the only mass market campaign promoting orthodontic treatment by an orthodontist. AAO’s Council on Communication and AAO staff work collaboratively on the CAP to raise awareness among consumers about the benefits of orthodontic treatment provided by AAO orthodontists and promote orthodontists as specialists. The key theme here is the program is geared to the consumer! Quite frankly, my hope is very few of you have SEEN the campaign in action. Why? Because you are not the target audience!  Our consumers are!  AAO’s all-digital campaign is targeting people who have an interest in learning more. The Campaign budget of $5 million is modest compared to that of others advertising to potential orthodontic patients and our dollars are targeted wisely!

So is it working?? As in everything else we do these days, data drives decisions. During the membership year June 1, 2021 – May 31, 2022 the AAO CAP campaign was viewed over 180 MILLION times across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Google search and drove 4.7 million consumers to the AAO consumer website. That is a lot of consumers taking the extra step to learn and the AAO has positioned itself as the go-to resource when people search for answers. Your assessment dollars at work. Worth it? I believe so!  My hope is this refresher helps remind everyone not only of the value of the assessment but also of the efforts going on behind the scenes at the AAO that enhance the orthodontic careers of all our members and protect the profession.

The AAO is only as strong as its members, that includes you. We do hope every member recognizes the efforts of the Association and supports these efforts especially by paying the dues and assessment. 86% of all academically certified orthodontists are members of the AAO. A little insight-that speaks volumes, particularly when engaging in advocacy at all levels. So….

While I still hope you don’t see much of our Consumer Awareness Campaign I hope you now know it is working and has moved the needle raising awareness among consumers about the benefits of orthodontic treatment provided by the US!!!

I hope to see many of you in Philadelphia at our MASO/NESO combined meeting. Getting together, in person. Is so much better than what we have dealt with these last few years. Come and join the party!!

John Callahan

Trustee- Northeastern Society of Orthodontists