The World Health Organization defines health policy as “…decisions, plans and actions that are undertaken to achieve specific health care goals within a society.” These political, economic and social policies seek to improve patient safety, promote healthy outcomes and achieve quality standards.
Every November, dental students from each ASDA chapter pass around a Molar Bear and bust out their “Tooth Party” pins to participate in ASDA’s Advocacy Month. I’m going to share why ASDA created this annual initiative and the different ways students can work toward change for the profession.
It’s a tradition: one Class II, one Class III, and scaling and root planing. Three exercises stand between dental school and practicing as a dentist. The single encounter, high stakes, live clinical exam is the most common form of obtaining licensure for a graduating dentist. This exam is just a snapshot of a candidate’s ability to practice on the public, yet it confers a privilege to practice on the public for a lifetime.
As a first-year dental student, I had no concept of what it meant to be an advocate for the dental profession. And when I took on my first role as the University of North Carolina (UNC) ASDA chapter legislative liaison, I still had no idea. Having no one at UNC to help guide the way, I was overwhelmed. Luckily, a few months after starting the role, I attended the ADA Dentist and Dental Student Lobby Day in Washington, D.C.
The hardest part about anything is getting started. This also is true for advocacy efforts. Oftentimes, students are passionate about a cause but may not know how or where they can start to make a difference. Advocacy wasn’t new to me, but ASDA created a program that helped me record my activity and realize that there were even more ways to get involved.
For new dental students, licensure exams are a few years away, but it’s never too early to start getting educated about the current process and what we can do to improve the experience for ourselves as well as future dental students.
Marquette University incorporates the state legislative day into its core curriculum, and this year, all D2s and D3s attended the event. Students joined forces with the Wisconsin Dental Association (WDA) to speak against the bill with one voice. Here are highlights from the 2019 legislative day.