ASDA District 6 &7 Meeting

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by: Dominic Hohman, Case Western

Advocacy; A simple word that now holds so much meaning to the hundreds of dental students that attended the ASDA district 6 and 7 meeting this year. Many dentists, student and graduate alike, are unaware of the crucial role that we can play in changing our profession in the many years to come. At the ASDA district 6 and 7 meeting we were not only encouraged to reach out to our senators, we were given the opportunity to meet many of the men and women that fight for our profession every day. This included speeches from the ODA, the ASDA national executive board, and testimonies from a few of the students that have actually sat down with their senator and educated them about the dental profession. Seeing the dedication that all of these people had to us, and our profession, was enough to encourage everyone there to get involved and do whatever we could to help dentistry continue to grow and evolve in a way which is advantageous for us and our patients.

The energy at the ASDA district meeting brought us together. From learning about job opportunities to tailgating for the Ohio State game we came together as a group and learned more about each other than we ever imagined we could in two days. Many of us were shocked at how many similarities we saw between the different dental schools. We began to realize that even though we were far away from each other and were going through a completely different program, we really were all working toward the same goal: to be the best dentist we could be and to make sure that our patients were treated to the best of our capability. It was refreshing to see so many people that had a passion for dentistry and it’s future.

Though the meeting was short, the experience was second to none. The 2015 ASDA district 6 and 7 meeting invigorated every member that attended and challenged each person to advocate for dentistry and push our profession to heights it’s never been to before. I know that we all left with a better understanding of our career and better relationship with our district and friends.

A Word from our Legislative Liaison

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by Spencer Tepe, Ohio State University (2017)
This year I inherited the Legislative Liaison position of Ohio State. We had a successful year at Ohio State in regards to advocacy and are very proud of our achievements. We have many things now to which we can strive in the coming year and I’m the one to see that it happens. But this post does not concern what we may or may not do in regards to advocacy efforts. In fact, I believe my last post entailed much of that. Rather, this post is about ASDA in its whole and what it has offered to me personally thus far.
To date, I’ve had the pleasure and good fortune to serve in a variety of roles within ASDA. In my position now, I make executive decisions, manage others, delegate tasks and hold people accountable. My responsibilities have increased both on the local and district level. In this process I have learned a lot about my peers and myself. I have been able to refine my leadership skills via interaction with those who are more experienced and through self-reflection. My tenure in ASDA has been very rewarding and this post speaks merely to one aspect of what ASDA has offered me.
And so, my advice is simple. Get involved. Challenge yourself to do more. Don’t be discouraged by a loss in an election. And when you’ve secured the role you’ve desired, recruit as many as you’re able. Sometimes, the most significant contributions come from places you’d least expect.

National Dental Student Lobby Day 2015

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by: Randi Polster

Attending National Student Lobby Day in Washington D.C. was an amazing experience. It was an opportunity for all us students to see dentistry from a different point of view. Sometimes while studying for exams and stressing over the next complex dental procedure we have to perform, we forget about how bigger things like politics can affect our future. In Washington, we were all reminded of how important it is for us to speak out and use our voice to protect our profession.

We kicked off the meeting with a great District 6 event at Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill. We couldn’t have asked for better weather and a better atmosphere to reconnect with old friends and make new! It was a really great way to come together as a district and share stories about our dental school experiences as well as our lives outside of dental school. Later we were joined by other districts to make the evening more exciting than it already was! It was really nice to mingle with everyone before the lobbying began.

On the first day of the meeting, we learned more about our purpose in Washington. We learned how to lobby, what issues we were lobbying, and were fortunate to listen to a variety of excellent speakers. We spent the majority of the day learning about H.R. 539 Action for Dental Health Act and H.R. 649 Student Loan Refinancing Act. These bills are important to us as students because they would allow our communities better access to care and create less stress on students as they face their overwhelming debt after graduation. We were fortunate to have Representative Brian Babin and Representative Paul Gosar speak to us about these bills before our journey to Capital Hill the next day. We engaged them in a very helpful Q & A session and learned how to approach our goal of gaining support to these issues.

The next morning, the bus departed for Capital Hill and approximately 380 students unified together to share our thoughts and personal stories with our respective congressmen. We voiced our opinion of H.R. 539 and H.R. 649 with representatives, senators, and their office staff. One of my meetings was with Representative Steve Stivers who represents the 15th district of Ohio. I was nervous at first to meet with a congressman, but it turned out to be a very casual conversation. It was great to hear his view on the issues and I felt my voice was heard. Throughout the day, it was refreshing to feel support in all my meetings and witness how invested they all were in our concerns.

At the end of the meeting, we were all exhausted after some good lobbying and connecting with students from all across the country. This exhaustion was a good feeling because it meant it was yet another successful ASDA adventure! It was an exceptional experience that I recommend every student attend if possible before they leave school.

Michigan Student Lobby Day Recap

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by: Jordan Komyathy, University of Detroit Mercy

One thing that we dental students don’t hear about much in school is the influence that politics have on our profession. In school, we are in our own little bubble where dentistry is perfecting your skills, having the ability to treatment plan, and communicating well with our patients. During my time in ASDA, I have learned that dentistry is a whole lot more than what they teach us in school. There are third party players like insurance companies, healthcare companies, governments, and medical personnel that impact how we treat our patients. At State Lobby Day in Lansing, I realized how important it is to be aware of the laws that influence our profession, and how important it is for me to voice my opinion about these laws.

This past February I went to Lansing to lobby on behalf of the Michigan Dental Association with a few of my colleagues. We lobbied on two issues: Healthy Kids Dental and student loan debt. Healthy Kids Dental is an insurance program for children whose parents cannot afford dental coverage. It is backed by Delta Dental of Michigan and reimburses dentists at a higher rate than Medicaid, which makes private practice dentists more apt to provide care to these patients. Right now, children in all Michigan counties except for Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne are covered. We lobbied to have the three remaining counties added to the budget for this coming year. The other point we discussed with legislators was student loan debt. There is currently no student loan legislation under consideration so our intent was to draw attention to the high interest rates and significant debt that today’s dental students endure. Upon graduation, dentists on average are burdened with an average of $250k in debt while attempting to find a job, establish credit, buy a house, and start a family. With this in mind, we made the case for tax deductions on loan payback after graduation. It was a great experience to be able to talk to legislators about the issues facing us directly that we are so passionate about.

This was my second time attending State Lobby Day. I found that my nervousness faded, but my excitement did not. Much like my first year, I enjoyed learning more about current legislation as well as the legislative process in general. I also found that speaking to politicians who aren’t too familiar with the dental field was a great way to develop my presentation skills. I believe that this will help me as I begin to see my first patients. Getting outside of my dental school bubble and in to life outside of school allowed me to feel a sense of purpose while gaining a better understanding of the forces that could shape my future.