I was inspired to see great passion from ASDA’s chapters across the country this November. Everyone’s motivation to create grassroots initiatives was refreshing and added fuel to the advocacy fire. My #ASDAfever was reignited. Here are my top five moments from ASDA’s 2019 Advocacy Month.
1. E Pluribus ASDA
This year’s Advocacy Month theme means, “Out of many, ASDA.” This month brought individual dental students together to make up one great ASDA. Chapters held exciting and innovative advocacy events and programming that engaged and educated members on legislation impacting dentistry and how we can get involved. For example, many chapters held ADPAC drives during the month to help increase awareness and encourage people to sign up. At Roseman, we broke our record for the number of ADPAC sign-ups.
2. Molar Bear
I’ve enjoyed checking social media every day to watch all the exciting things the Molar Bear has done. The Molar Bear went on quite the journey by traveling to a record 64 of ASDA’s 66 chapters. At my chapter, the Molar Bear attended a lunch and learn with Dr. Jane Grover and learned about Community Dental Health Coordinators and how they alleviate barriers to dental care.
3. ASDA Engage
During many of the chapter lunch and learns, legislative liaisons shared how dental students can take action on ASDA’s key issues by using Engage to send letters to their representatives. Students sent nearly 650 letters the first two weeks of Advocacy Month. Engaging with representatives is a critical matter in advocating for legislation, so seeing an increase in the amount of letters sent in November has been inspiring.
Helping my fellow Roseman students send letters in support of the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA) was a highlight for me. This is an important act, as it advocates for coverage of medically necessary surgeries for children with congenital anomalies.
4. Midlevel provider advo-cast
The advo-cast this November provided an engaging and informative presentation on a hot topic in dentistry: midlevel providers. Experts presented information on how midlevel providers are impacting dentistry all across the country. Learning how the Michigan Dental Association fought midlevel providers and what the climate is like now in the state was helpful for students in states that may soon face midlevel legislation.
While my state, Utah, hasn’t taken on midlevel providers yet, states that are geographically close, such as Arizona, have adopted the midlevel provider model. It could be a matter of time until this becomes a hot topic in Utah, and the information provided during the advo-cast gave me ideas on how we can take this on if necessary.
5. ASDA Advocacy Certificate Program
Participating in each advocacy event brought dental students closer to receiving their advocacy certificate. Each advocacy-related event members attend gives one point toward their certificate. Many students were able to rack up multiple points this November doing activities such as joining ADPAC, taking a photo with the Molar Bear, sending an Engage Action Alert and more.
The knowledge gained during this Advocacy Month will make a lifelong impact on dental students advocating on behalf of the “Tooth Party” throughout their careers. Now that Advocacy Month is over, keep up the momentum by exploring all the ways you can toward earning your advocacy certificate!
~Leigh Ann Wahl, Roseman ’21, ASDA Legislative Coordinator, Districts 10-11