The Student Professionalism & Ethics Association (SPEA) is a student organization that helps prepare dental students for the difficult choices they will face in practice. When you look at your patient’s medical history, the state of their teeth and gums, their finances and their commitment to hygiene, you are incorporating these variables into a decision for treatment. You try to make the decision that is best for the patient and for you. One challenge of providing oral health treatment is combining the many variables into the best treatment decision. Dentistry is not a binary profession with simple inputs and outputs. Comprehensive care requires comprehensive thought and foresight. The actions we take as professionals affect the patient, us and the profession. What ought to be done and what you will actually do may differ. SPEA is there to help guide those decisions.
Recent scandal has unfortunately emerged out of a Canadian dental school, Dalhousie University Faculty of Dentistry, located in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Thirteen fourth-year male students were part of an online Facebook group entitled “Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen.” Within the private group, misogynistic posts were allegedly made describing female classmates, “hate sex,” and the use of chloroform, among other degrading, misogynistic comments. Screenshots of the posts were brought to administrators’ attention on Dec. 8, 2014, and on Jan. 5, 2015 the 13 involved students were suspended from clinic. On Jan. 9, the university also announced that an external third-party task force would investigate the situation. The university, along with the female students affected, has decided to pursue a restorative justice process, which is more victim-centered and will give the affected students a say in working toward a resolution. What can we learn from this situation?