A small act of advocacy

One of the pillars, at all levels of organized dentistry, is advocacy. As members of the American Student Dental Association, advocacy is not something to be viewed as an entity that is merely provided to us. Advocacy is a personal task that should be actively engaged in so that we can serve as a voice to our colleagues, law-makers and the general population.

For today’s dental student, the utilization of social media is at times used to vent about a rigorous week at school, post pictures of your latest sim clinic work-of-art, or even share that infamous “stab lab” photo op. The ‘likes’ and comments these posts generate can be astronomical and are comprised of other dental students, family members and friends. It is easily apparent that through our postings we have the ability to reach a variety of different individuals. Having said this, I would like to make a call to action to my fellow dental students–harness this power of social media and redirect it to advocate for issues important to our profession.

The overwhelming impact that social media could have on our advocacy efforts as dental students became clearly evident to me on April 18, 2014. When I read the controversial news article, I initially vacillated on my decision to repost it on my Facebook newsfeed. However, after carefully constructing my opinion, and after educating myself on the issues, I shared an article that discussed the recent approval of dental therapists in Maine. What ensued was truly special. With a simple click of my MacBook Pro track pad, I received comments and emails which sparked intellectual discussions and inquiries on what this report meant.

It opened up a dialogue amongst my fellow dental students, and, more importantly, amongst acquaintances that were not involved in the dental field. One person in particular who reached out to me was a friend of my brother that resides in Maine. Paula, having no dental background, messaged me, confused about this article. We arranged a phone call so that we could talk more about it. In about 30 minutes, I was able to educate her on what dental therapists were, and provided her with the stance the American Dental Association and ASDA has taken on this issue. What a win-win situation this turned out to be. I was able to promote advocacy directly to someone on behalf of ASDA, and Paula gained perspective outside of what she read in the article.
The domino effect that a small act of advocacy could create can be profound. I view advocating for dental issues as a moral obligation we take on as dentists. As experts in our field, it is important that we encompass all aspects of the profession into our knowledge–clinically and socially.

If you need help starting your own advocacy-focused social media campaign, here’s how:

~Jordan Janis, Arizona ’16, ADPAC student director, Council on Advocacy

Jordan Janis

Jordan is a 3rd year dental student at the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health and is currently the ADPAC Student Director. When not in clinic, Jordan can be found on the golf course, exploring Arizona or in his backyard using his smoker to make some delicious BBQ!

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