A few months ago, I had the chance to attend the ADA’s Annual Session in the exciting city of New Orleans! Like ASDA’s Annual Session, this was an opportunity to attend CE classes, explore the enormous vendor exhibition and network with dental professionals from across the country. Exploring the city after hours was a chance to sample the fantastic food, listen to some great music and experience Halloween on Bourbon Street. But for me, the standout experience of the trip was seeing President Bill Clinton speak!
Following the presentation of the ADA’s Humanitarian Award to Dr. Sherwin Shinn, President Clinton spoke to a hall with standing-room only. His speech included stories from his childhood growing up in the South, touched on his experience as President, and focused on service through his work with the Clinton Global Initiative. However, what he said that really stuck with me was that, “the main job of everybody as a citizen in the 21st century in the world, either in your neighborhood or state or our country or around the world, is to do what you can to diminish the negative forces of our interdependence and build up the positive ones.”
The central message to his speech was about how close the modern world has become and that opportunities and challenges are shared by everyone. In his speech, President Clinton gave examples of how to “diminish the negative forces of inequality,” from Dr. Shinn’s work to provide oral care to the underserved to President Clinton’s own work in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. Dental students can help too!
It’s inevitable as students that our time and energy gets sucked into the black hole we call dental school. At some point, every dental student has felt that their entire world revolves around school. The endless studying, countless tests and competencies make it easy to see how we can lose ourselves. However, with a new year, I challenge you to take a step back from the black hole.
Consider going back to shadow an old mentor to refresh your outlook on dentistry. Consider volunteering on an outreach mission abroad or at a local event like Give Kids a Smile. These experiences will help you remember that dentistry is about service. Or help your community by volunteering at a school, humane society or soup kitchen to counteract the “negative forces” President Clinton talked about. Odds are, these activities will help you reignite your passion for service and help prevent you from getting sucked back into the black hole.
~Kedy Shen, Roseman ’16, Chicago administrative extern
Read all about dental outreach in the winter issue of Mouth. The issue features articles about domestic outreach versus trips abroad, virtual dental homes using cloud technology and more. Plus, 17 dental schools submitted photos and details about the domestic outreach done at their ASDA chapters. Click here to read the issue now.