If the reader graduated from an orthodontic residency before 1988, there is little likelihood that he or she would have any firsthand knowledge of the Graduate Orthodontic Residents Program, referred to affectionately as “GORP.” Yet this professional and social event continues to have a significant positive impact on our specialty. Having been part of GORP from its inception, I welcomed the invitation to bring the readers of the AJO-DO up to speed regarding the purpose and history of GORP.
The primary purpose of GORP is to provide a venue in which American and Canadian residents can come together each summer in a relaxed atmosphere to become acquainted with colleagues whom they will know for the rest of their professional careers. This gathering is the first such meeting in either dentistry or medicine to bring together residents from across the country in such an event.
This gathering also provides the opportunity for the orthodontists of the future to meet with representatives of orthodontic laboratories, companies, and other entities that provide materials and computer services to the specialty. In addition, the residents interact with our major orthodontic professional organizations, including the leaders of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO), and the American Association of Orthodontists Foundation (AAOF).
The concept of GORP originated at a holiday party sponsored by the Department of Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Michigan in 1988. The School of Dentistry had just gone through a difficult transition, with the consolidation of 17 departments into 6 departments and my taking over as interim chair of the newly formed Department of Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry. There had been much turmoil throughout the school for several years. At our evening holiday party, a special collegial feeling was generated, with faculty, staff, and residents from the specialties of pediatric dentistry and orthodontics joining together for the first time in a relaxed atmosphere.
The suggestion sparking GORP originated during a conversation among 3 of us, residents Gary Starr and Pat Nolan and me. We were commenting on how wonderful the evening had been, when Gary suggested that it would be an excellent idea to broaden the spirit of the evening, perhaps bringing together residents from surrounding orthodontic programs (specifically the programs from Big Ten schools). Pat and I expanded on Gary’s idea, and we started to explore the thought of a national meeting of orthodontic residents.
Having an idea for such a meeting is one thing; pulling it off with no budget is another (today the budget for each GORP meeting is well over $200,000). That is where our friends and colleagues in the orthodontic industry have played a major role. The next day, I began contacting about 30 orthodontic companies (large and small) and asked them to partially underwrite what would turn out to be an annual summer meeting of residents. Virtually everyone I contacted agreed to support our efforts.
It was logical to hold the first meeting on the University of Michigan campus because we knew we had the facilities to hold the banquet, lectures, and picnic (a few years later, a golf outing was added), and we could obtain inexpensive housing in the dormitories during the summer. Our goal was to have the residents pay their own way to Ann Arbor, but once there, their expenses were paid by GORP through donations from the vendors and later from the AAO and its constituent societies and the AAOF. The first meeting was held during the first week of August in 1989 ( Fig ). We had about 175 residents in attendance (compared with over 525 residents last year) and about 30 or 35 vendors, including almost all major orthodontic companies. We have always had premier speakers who donated their time without compensation, until a few years ago when we provided a token honorarium to the speakers.