Lobby days are a fun and effective way to develop relationships with your congressional representatives. The goal of a lobby day is to inform politicians about the issues that affect the dental profession and the oral health of the greater community. Meeting with legislators during a lobby day will hopefully persuade them to vote in a certain way on active bills. But how do you plan a lobby day?
In February of this year, your fellow students voted on an important policy update at ASDA’s House of Delegates. The resolution updated ASDA’s Policy E-4, Sensitivity to Diversity. Amid the flurry of a constantly changing immigration policy from President Trump, delegates wanted to take an official stance. ASDA delegates voted to include, “ASDA encourages the appropriate dental school admissions agencies to give equal admissions consideration to undocumented students with intent to seek legal permanent status.” This means that ASDA supports our diverse students and applicants without considering immigration status. Understanding the policy’s meaning and its relationship to the Trump Administration policy allows students to advocate.
Lobby Day. Hundreds of dental students gathered in Washington, D.C. to meet with senators and representatives from their states. The goal: to lobby for dentists, patients and dental students on behalf of the profession. If you have attended Lobby Day, you know the thrill of scampering around the nation’s capitol.
For most students, this is not the case. Dental school is tough and time-consuming, which makes travel across the country difficult. But all is not lost when it comes to advocacy. Being in the nation’s capitol delivering your message is incredible, but not always feasible. One of the best places to meet with a member of Congress is in their respective district.
I vividly remember the November morning in 1996. I accompanied my mom to her polling place in Kennesaw, Georgia. Even as a five-year-old, something about the entire situation felt special, but at that time I couldn’t really figure out what it was. I have been inquisitive since birth, so naturally I asked my mom why we were waiting in line. My mom explained that it was our responsibility to voice our opinion in the political process, and the way we did so was by voting. She stressed that everyone received one vote, and every vote mattered. From that morning on, I looked forward to voicing my opinions at the ballot box.
The American Dental Association wants to reduce the number of adults and children with untreated dental disease. Volunteer outreach events primarily serve this goal. Some patients travel hundreds of miles and wait for days in line just to get a tooth extracted. Many of these stories go untold, so it is our duty as future practitioners to speak for the underserved and get barriers to care at the forefront of the political agenda.
The ADA started the Action for Dental Health two years ago to combat access to care issues with three goals in mind: to treat patients in need now, to expand the private and public safety net, and to increase education and prevention. Read on to learn more.
The most common question Council on Advocacy members are asked is how to stay up-to-date with current events and political issues impacting dental students?
The best way to stay current on dental issues is to read ASDA’s e-newsletter, Advocacy Brief. This monthly email is sent to every ASDA member and includes recent state and federal dental news. For more ways to stay in-the-know, read on…
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.