I recently went to my second lobby day in Vermont, a state without a dental school. I accompanied nine other students from Tufts, Boston University, and Harvard to descend upon the statehouse. We all made the three-hour trip, because we understand how important it is to advocate for our patients and our profession. While we were there we met with many senators and members of the house. We discussed ways to attract more providers to increase the level of care in Vermont. Read on to learn how you can make a difference in dentistry too…
A dentist has many responsibilities. They provide dental treatment. They offer care to under-served areas. They may owe on loans and must support the salary of the team they employ. They are active in organized dentistry to protect their profession and to stay current on evidence-based dentistry. Finally, they abide by our code of ethics, which are the essential pieces to our profession. But dentistry is more than dentistry.
To me, being a leader within our community is one of our greatest responsibilities. It’s also a chance to do something else that we are passionate about. We owe ourselves time away from dentistry to de-stress. As a dental student, you can pursue these interests now.
In April, more than 380 dental students from across the country united in Washington. Students met with legislators and lobbied for the Action for Dental Health Act. H.R. 539 is a bipartisan supported bill introduced to Congress by Representative Robin Kelly from Illinois. If passed, the bill would allow nonprofit organizations to qualify for oral health grants administered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These grants could be used to support several programs outlined within the ADA Action for Dental Health initiative.
With so many factors that go into treatment planning (cost, insurance coverage, time requirements, length of procedures, knowledge of the treatment, fear), sometimes we may lose sight of what is best for the patient. Never make assumptions. Get to know your patients. Make sure that he or she understands what the procedure entails and is clear on the pros and cons of every treatment option. Taking the time to listen to the patient and explain all possible treatment options and ways for future prevention is paramount to treating each person in the best way possible.
Atenolol, Prozac, Coumadin, Fosamax, Omeprazole, Lisinopril. We all have a patient with a long list of medications that, at a glance, resemble alphabet soup. Often, these are the same patients who are battling complex medical conditions and are being seen by multiple physicians. Obtaining a comprehensive medical history is crucial. I am always glad when my patient comes prepared with a detailed log of their past surgeries and medical diagnoses. Other patients are less certain about their history. Some patients report they are “taking a bunch of pills that [so and so] organizes for me every week” (obviously an unclear picture of their current medications).