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. We also fought to maintain a high level of care in the state. Even last year we testified in front of the senate hearing and successfully protected the rights of dentists. Both years we were with many dentists and specialists in Vermont who took a stand as well. This level of involvement however, may not be for everyone.
Lets think about this trip for a moment. Students needed funding for car rentals, gas, hotel rooms and meals. These add up! Without financial support, our presence would have been drastically diminished. Just a few membership dues to the Vermont State Dental Society, or a couple of ADA memberships, provided for these costs. Simply being a member protects our profession. Without lifting a finger, by belonging to organized dentistry you empower those out on the front lines. If I said my organization represented 40 percent of dentists vs. 65 percent of dentists, which would compel you to listen? More members = greater impact.
Politics are far from the extent of what organized dentistry does. Organized dentistry researches products for the safety of our patients. The ADA creates standards of care and recommendations for patients and providers to promote increased oral health in our country. Organized dentistry creates a network of dentists who can look out for each other and mentor new incoming dentists. I could go on, but the key is that dentistry and the associated specialties are not simply jobs. Dentistry is a profession. By working together as a unit we can become better providers and keep our patients healthier. Everyone wins.
We are all in this together! The importance of organized dentistry has gone undervalued in recent years, as times for dentists have been so favorable. But in an era of increasing student debt, massive political change in health care, and rapidly evolving technologies, our team must again have its importance realized. Being a member of organized dentistry strengthens our profession. The dental field is great because we have protected it. If we stop, this changes. Amidst different morals and political views there are the core values we hold that brought us to this field: the foundation of organized dentistry. Join the ADA, join your local and state dental societies. What else could you do for your career and your practice that costs so little, but can do so much? Plus, there are so many other benefits to membership. It’s a no brainer. Just remember even if you don’t want a physical seat at the table, you are still on the team. Together we stand.
~Adam Patenaude, Harvard ’17, ADPAC student director
All predoctoral ASDA members are automatically members of the ADA. If you haven’t joined ASDA, click here. If you’re interested in getting involved in your local state association, click here for more information. ASDA conducted a survey in 2012 to determine which state associations have positions available for students. Click here for the results.
About Adam Patenaude
Adam Patenaude is a third year dental student at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. He currently serves as the ADPAC Student Director and keeps involved in many other organizations on campus. In his free time he looks to get to the golf course whenever possible. Additionally he is always ready to strike up a conversation about cars. He feels the brand motto that best represents him is Toyota's "Moving Forward.” He believes "Life is going to be unfair and difficult, but if we are honest and stick to our values we can always keep going."