November is ASDA’s Advocacy Month, which means that chapters across the country are busy planning and executing plenty of lunch and learns and ADPAC drives. It is events like these where students learn about issues important in dentistry and how they can become more involved, spreading awareness about the issues that impact dentistry the most.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) advocacy efforts are focused into a single week, with back-to-back events for dental students. This year, UAB’s Advocacy Week kicked off with a visit from the Advocacy Molar Bear. The bear serves as a mascot for ASDA’s advocacy initiatives, and each chapter has the opportunity to sign up to host her at their school.
The highlight of the week, “Fight Night,” is focused on making advocacy fun, bringing students and faculty together to learn, debate, engage and “fight out,” so to speak, the nuances on a variety of topics. This is our version of a debate, themed after an MMA fight, which allows students to see their chosen faculty representative discuss current hot topics in dentistry. Some of these topics include opioids, midlevel providers and more. The winner of each round is chosen by the students through online polling, and the final winner takes home the championship title belt (and bragging rights). Students engage with Fight Night by learning about issues impacting the field of dentistry in an amusing and creative way.
UAB’s Advocacy Week winds down with an ADPAC drive and a “Pizza and Politics” lunch and learn. A panel of leaders from the Alabama Dental Association share insight with students, discussing how we can advocate for our profession by participating in state or national lobby days.
Chapters interested in increasing advocacy initiatives at their school can start by signing up for the Advocacy Molar Bear. Use the molar bear as a prop for your social media pages to represent Advocacy Month, or encourage students in your chapter to post their own photo with the bear, using #advocacybear, for a chance to win freebies.
Creating a fun event that brings students and faculty together to discuss key topics is an innovative way to bring attention to the major advocacy issues in organized dentistry. Plan your own “Fight Night” as a way to increase student involvement in your chapter’s advocacy initiatives.
Lastly, hosting an informative lunch and learn with dentists in the community is a great way to inform students on how they can participate in advocacy initiatives themselves. Pair this lunch with an ADPAC drive to further encourage students to contribute.
Advocacy can seem like an intimidating endeavor when thinking about how your entire chapter can get involved. However, preparation is key, and simple, fun events throughout the month of November will power students with knowledge about the current issues, allow them to engage with faculty and dentists in their community and teach students how they can further get involved in protecting our profession.
~Emily Roig, Alabama ’20