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.
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.
As wrap up my final visits at ASDA chapters and make my way back to ASDA’s central office in Chicago, I reflect on my Advocacy Month 2018 adventures. I’m happy to report that I surpassed my 2017 mileage and reached 61 of ASDA’s 66 chapters — a substantial increase from the 53 chapters I visited last year. After all of the travel (with minor jet lag) and hours spent with ASDA members, I am certain of three things: Advocacy is vital to ensure the future of the dental profession, the profession is safe in the hands of the advocates I met this month, and ASDA members are excellent hosts.
There is no shortage of news, facts or statistics on the opioid epidemic. As a dental student, you’ve probably been inundated with this information. ASDA’s Council on Advocacy wants to help you make sense of the crisis and the ways you can advocate for your patients. The council held an expert panel to assess the epidemic through the dental profession lens. Perspectives on organized dentistry, interprofessional efforts and legislative actions were discussed to help students understand the issue. Here are the key takeaways you should know as you begin to combat the opioid epidemic.
“I failed my licensure exam because my patient didn’t show up.” “I’m graduating with more than $400,000 in student debt.” “My patient couldn’t afford the treatment they desperately needed.” These are the things dental students say, and it’s likely you will, too, during your dental student career. ASDA’s Advocacy Month aims to bolster the dental student voice by challenging ASDA members to “Find out. Reach out. Speak out” for dental student interests this midterm season and beyond.
Growing up in Baltimore, I often drove past congressional buildings and watched people dressed in business suits stroll down crosswalks. I thought nothing of how their actions and the decisions they were making would affect me and, ultimately, the profession that I would undertake.
The question every fourth-year student is asking themselves right now is this: “What am I going to do after graduation?” While some may spend hours weighing different residency programs, others may contemplate joining a corporate or private practice. But there is another option to consider: advocacy.