April 2018. I ventured to Washington, D.C., for ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day. The first day prepared nearly 1,100 dentists and dental students for the congressional meetings that followed. While sitting in the grand ballroom of our host hotel, I listened to questions and comments about our legislative issues. Some issues were simpler to understand as a first-year dental student. Others, such as those regarding insurance and its marketplace, seemed more complicated. It was then that I realized my lack of understanding on the intricacies of some legislative issues. I knew that to better understand the issues, to feel confident advocating and to further my advocacy involvement after lobby day, I needed a mentor.
During spring break 2018, I traveled to Quito, Ecuador with my classmates and local dentists. I had never gone on a mission trip before, so I tried to approach everything with an open mind and enthusiasm. It was one of the best decisions of my life, and I can’t wait to go back next year. Since dental schools are increasing the availability of international service trips, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Occasionally, dental school can get you down, make you frown, make you want to pack up and leave town. But if you’re looking to turn that frown upside down, you don’t have to look much further than our incredible ASDA chapters across the country. All of these videos have one thing in common: having fun!
My first involvement with organized dentistry happened when a dentist from the Great Houston Dental Society (GHDS) invited me to Texas Mission of Mercy. I took on the opportunity, which opened the door for other community service outreach that provided free dental care for veterans and underserved populations. These experiences reminded me that we have the potential to generate a positive impact on others’ lives, even with the smallest amount of help we can provide. Together with our mutual passion and skills, we were able to improve the health of our community. Without this cooperation and guidance, none of this would have been possible.
For dental students, science has never been subjective. We sit through semesters of organic chemistry and anatomy in college, spending long nights trying to understand the path to the right answer (because there’s always a right answer) to the complex problems our professors throw at us. We are well-tuned machines of memorization and comprehension.
Imagine it is 2 a.m., and you are cramming for your pharmacology exam. You flip through the hundreds of flashcards you created to memorize the properties of the medications and corresponding treatment protocol. You come across analgesics, specifically opioids, and remember they are used to alleviate pain. In school, we learn about the properties and proper dosages of the drugs we will one day prescribe, as well as how to address potential concerns of usage with our patients, but in order to enhance our own patient care mentality, we should reframe how we think about pain management overall.
Outreach has always been a pillar of organized dentistry. Because of this, in 2017, the Council on Professional Issues spearheaded the launch of ASDA’s National Outreach Initiative (NOI). This year, the council plans to maintain the momentum generated by NOI’s inaugural year, while continuing to promote various events and opportunities for involvement throughout 2018 and 2019.