Harness the Advocacy Month momentum — and keep it going

With Advocacy Month coming to an end and advocacy engagement high, it is important to recognize how we can continue this momentum to create change year-round. When dental students across the nation work together to advocate for key issues, their united voice makes a difference. This collective action is crucial to protecting our profession.

The theme of Advocacy Month this year is “Hindsight is 2020: Act now to change the future.” While this month may have looked different at your school this year, this theme was representative of the importance of collective action. Dental students came together in unprecedented ways to spark change and promote awareness of issues that impact us and our patients.

Chapters developed new and innovative events such as virtual voter registration drives, “Zoom and Learns” and virtual debates. The Council on Advocacy hosted two webinars, and members shared chapter events, thanks to the weekly social media calendars.

Locally, students attended panel discussions, created or colored their own Molar Bear, had conversations about dental advocacy with peers and faculty, participated in advocacy trivia, and competed in the ASDA Action text alerts competition.

ASDA has prepared us to continue to take collective action, even after Advocacy Month ends, with the launch of ASDA Action. This new grassroots advocacy software helps us stay aware of all things advocacy. It allows us to educate ourselves on and monitor bills pertaining to dentistry as well as look up other legislation.

This platform also enables us to keep in contact with our congresspeople on the state and federal levels by sending letters on specific bills. Additionally, there’s a text alert system that provides the most up to date advocacy information year-round; you can even get alerts when new letters are available to send to your congressperson. In a socially distant world, this new resource is crucial for collective action and will continue for years to come.

ASDA Action is only one way to engage. ASDA sends the Advocacy Brief e-newsletter every month, and it’s an excellent way to stay current on dentistry-related legislation and issues in Washington D.C. and the states, learn about dental advocacy through the Council on Advocacy’s Fast Facts videos, read about unique advocacy events and more.

Another way you can highlight your part in our collective action to create change in the dental profession is by participating in the Advocacy Certificate Program. This program lays out ways to get involved with advocacy while rewarding you for your participation. Some ways to get involved may be attending national and state lobby days, whether they be in-person or virtual, joining ADPAC, getting involved with your state dental association and writing an advocacy-related article for your chapter, district or national ASDA’s publications.

There are many ways to be an advocate, and when students come together, we have a stronger, more unified voice to allow us to take action. It has been inspiring to see how ASDA members have come together like never before in the past month. While Advocacy Month 2020 may be ending soon, this energy must be continued every day to help propel our profession forward.  

~Katherine Malyszek, North Carolina ’22, Council on Advocacy Legislative Coordinator, Districts 4-5

Katherine Malyszek

Katherine Malyszek is a third-year dental student at the University of North Carolina Adams School of Dentistry. She is passionate about advocating for the dental profession and her patients. Aside from advocacy, Katherine loves spending time outdoors, exploring new places and trying new recipes.

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