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Annual Session SPEA 2017

Overview of Event:

Student Professionalism and Ethics Association in Dentistry (SPEA), Annual Session 2017 was held at Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, GA on October 20-21, 2017. I had the privilege of representing SPEA Colorado Chapter at the conference. The focus of the conference was spreading awareness of the importance of SPEA for the future of dentistry and had sessions that focused on social justice and ethics, economics and future of dentistry, coping with difficult situations in the workplace, leadership and ethics. The conference was structured into two days. The first day featured American College ofDentists (ACD) Address, 3 keynote sessions, breakout sessions for the SPEA members with the ACD and also had some opportunities for SPEA members to present their thoughts. The Executive Director of the ACD, Dr. Theresa Gonzales, also addressed the importance of SPEA. The second day featured two keynote sessions along with Chapter awards, Chapter development breakout sessions followed by elections for the new officers.


What is SPEA?

The Student Professionalism and Ethics Association in Dentistry is a national, student driven association that was established to promote and support students’ lifelong commitment to ethical behavior in order to benefit the patients they serve and to further the dental profession.

The objectives of the Association are:

•Act as a support system for students in strengthening their personal and professional ethics values by:

1) Providing a resource for ethics education and professional development.

2) Fostering a non-punitive, open-forum environment for ethics communication

3) Promoting awareness of ethics standards and related issues within dentistry

• Collaborating with leadership of the dental profession to effectively advocate for our members


Why Did I Choose To Attend?

SPEA Annual session is the only national level conference held and I had a very keen interest in enlightening myself about what SPEA actually does. It attracts students from all the SPEA  Chapters. Even students from SPEA chapter of Canada attended the session. The networking opportunities appealed to me, as did the opportunity to learn from various experiences.

I was particularly interested in sessions on chapter development and also keynote sessions identifying ethical cases since they would help me in future in my dental practice and also use the cases in discussion during various chapter events.

In addition to the conference sessions, networking with other colleagues was a valuable experience. I made good friends with the SPEA members of University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), School of Dentistry.

I also had the opportunity to attend the ADA meeting in the Georgia World Congress centre for a couple of hours on October 20, 2017. I was able to interact with some of the vendors at the exhibit hall and had the pleasure of seeing Peyton Manning LIVE! I was awed by the grandiosity of the conference.

What Sessions Did I Find Most Valuable?

During the conference, I was able to attend numerous sessions. I focussed on topics directly related to dealing with various ethical situations and what to do and what not to do in those situations. I especially enjoyed talks from Dr. Mike Meru. He brought a lot of positive energy to the session. He talked about a few cases and considerations that should be given in various situations.

What Networking Events Were Beneficial?

The Lunch sessions were most beneficial to networking. The organizing committee divided all the members into groups of six (first day according to the regency and second day was random). The lunch was organized at different local restaurants in downtown Atlanta. This gave me the opportunity to network with many students on a one-on-one basis. I liked the idea as opposed to planning a lunch session in one hall.

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A few things that I learned:

1) Sessions involving peer discussions about ethics are much more effective than education alone.

2) Other than values and ethics, Inter professional education, Inter professional communication and Inter professional teamwork plays an important role in practicing good dentistry.

3) Cost barriers to dental care are declining slowly because more and more people are getting insured but still we don’t see as many patients as expected. This may be due to lack of education.

4) Along with dentistry, developing a side hobby is of utmost importance. It helps you be more precise and better at your work.

5) There are basically two levels of motivation. Love and Fear. Either of them works efficiently and then there is a grey area between them.

6) Few things that influence our decision-making process: Values, Risks, Social influence, Peers.

Summary of Conference Experience:

I was very pleased with my conference attendance. I learned new notions and suggestions that would help our chapter develop more. In addition, I gained valuable experience that couldn’t be obtained anywhere else. I understood that SPEA is not just about ethics, but also about learning to be a support to lower class men, promoting inter professional education, sharing ideas to develop dental practice and many more things. The conference was very organized and the speakers provided candid opinions on the subject matter at hand, making the information extremely valuable. In addition, the meals and refreshment breaks were extremely nice and allowed me to save on my travel budget. All the attendees were given a pair of socks with the SPEA logo on them, which was a very unique and an interesting idea. As an international student, the networking experience was very beneficial.  

This was my first time ever attending a conference in US alone. My husband did join me on the second day. I enjoyed exploring Atlanta, especially the Ponce Market. We explored the downtown area a little and treated ourselves with amazing Indian food. For us, eating India food here is like a delicacy.

I was very pleased with all that I received at the Annual session and also hope to attend the next one in Hawaii in 2018.

One of the sayings that I am going to inculcate in my daily life:

“Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” - Wayne Gretzky

AdvocacyAnkita Jain
What it's like to Lobby on the Hill with the ADA

Lobbying on Capitol Hill is one of the most unique activities that happens in Washington D.C. Each year, the House of Representatives and Senate write bills that are passed into law by the President. As the political climate in Washington regularly fluctuates, it is essential that constituents address issues with consistency. Two weekends ago, we saw this in action. Thousands participated in the Tibet National Lobby Day, AIDS Foundation Lobby Day and ADA Dental Lobby Day. All were welcomed and given the ears and time of their elected officials.

For the past two decades, the American Dental Association (ADA) along with the American Dental Political Action Committee (ADPAC) have advocated for the dental profession on Capitol Hill. They have ensured that core concerns that effect our profession, providers and patients are voiced to our legislators. This year, for the first time, the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) joined with the ADA and ADPAC to voice the current issues important to our profession together. We took the following issues to our legislators; The Competitive Insurance Reform Act, the Student Loan Programs under the Higher Education Act and Health Care Reform: Supporting Oral Health.  

This year, a week before our Lobby Day, we saw years of the ADA’s hard work pay off as the 115th House of Representatives voted a 428 to 6 majority on H.R. 372. This repealed the Mccarran-Fergussan antitrust laws for medical and dental insurance companies. Since 1945, insurance companies have been exempt from the McCarran-Fergussan antitrust laws which prohibits companies and business owners to discuss and set similar prices for their products and services. Greater federal involvement in antitrust enforcement should encourage more competition in the healthcare insurance marketplace. More competition will promote lower prices and greater consumer choices for all Americans purchasing medical and dental insurance. This week, we thanked members of Congress for supporting this bipartisan bill and urged our senators to support or even sponsor a sister bill so that it can be passed in the senate as well. 

Rising student debt for undergraduate and graduate students is a prevalent concern for many of us. This concern is being voiced on Capitol Hill.  In 2016, the average student debt for recent dental graduates was $262,119. That is a 5% increase of average dental student debt in 2014. The weight of student debt limits many graduates’ professional pursuits, especially those who want to serve in public service, teaching and research positions. As Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act this year, we continued to voice our concerns regarding student debt as we met with members of Congress. Currently, there is a sponsored bill, H.R. 1614, that would allow students to refinance their graduate student loans at anytime through out the life of their loan. This would make keeping our student loans with the federal government more appealing and could save graduates thousands on accruing interest. Currently, the interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan. This week we tried to gather more representatives support for H.R. 1614 so that it will pass when it reaches the House floor. 

Since the instatement of The Affordable Care Act (ACA) the uninsured rate for Coloradans has dropped from 14.7% to 6.7%. Additionally the recent medicaid expansion in Colorado, passed in May of 2013, expanded coverage to more than 200,000 Colorado residents. As a direct result we have seen the number of hospital dental visits go from $11 million dollars to $1 million dollars annually in Colorado. We want to continue this progress as the expanding coverage reaches many of our small towns in eastern Colorado and in the Western slope. This was emphasized to our representatives by our doctors who practice in these areas. As health care is a hot topic on Capitol Hill right now we also discussed the importance and need for dental insurance transparency. Our doctors from the CDA have seen many patients who sign up for dental insurance and find out they aren’t covered until they pay for 24 months of premiums. Overall, we advocated for more transparent dental insurance plans so that our patients know what they are purchasing and what to expect from us.   

During our Lobby Day we were able to visit all 6 of our district representatives and both senator’s offices to discuss the issues above. It was great to see the impact we could make on organized dentistry by voicing our concerns to our legislators! It made me proud that we are included in a profession that stands united in protecting and advocating for our patients and doctors!

Networking: Cut the Chitchat

Dental Conferences are like rushing for a sorority; endless small-talk and prattle of where you're from, what school you go to, what year you’re in, and what position you hold. It almost feels like a rapid-fire competition of who can ask the most questions and how quickly someone can fill those awkward silences (my favorite). At this point, I could probably say I’m a small-talk aficionado given that most of my extracurricular activities have involved this sort of interaction with people. However, I have slowly come to the realization that these kinds of conversations, although I do them mindlessly, leave me exhausted and apathetic. One of the beauties of student dental conferences is the myriad of networking opportunities. We have the ability to expand our little black book of contacts in the hopes of making connections with the people that will be in our future professional community.

Networking: “interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one's career” - Google

That last line has never sat well with me and I doubt anyone would like to be described as an opportunist or a carpetbagger. This type of “you scratch my back I scratch yours” mentality limits ourselves to the facts and figures of conversations instead of digging deeper to who we are as people. It seems that having one insignificant conversation with somebody and handing out our business cards like they’re Halloween candy will automatically put us in a position to ask for favors in the future.

Why does Networking only have to be small talk? Why can’t it also be big talk?

I understand that some people are uncomfortable with getting straight to the big questions right off the bat. But I will argue that you can definitely turn insignificant pleasantries into meaningful dialogue and part of it is getting over our fears of looking too inquisitive or intrusive. We all know what open-ended questions are; we do it with our patients all the time. Why can’t we do the same when networking?

This mentality may be in due part to my ENFP personality and my will to find the deeper meaning in anything and everything (I strongly encourage everyone to know their own Myers Briggs letters). I don't mean I will always try to have existential conversations or discuss the nature of the cosmos with every stranger, but I will absolutely try my best to leave an exchange of dialogue knowing something enticing about a new person. Opening-up and having a moment of feeling listened to will make a person much more likely to “do you a favor,” if that's what you’re looking for in networking. I know it sounds like common sense, but I challenge you to make an effort and skip the small talk when meeting a new person.

I decided to try this out at this year’s ASDA Annual Session with the first person I met, a foreign student who came to the USA at age 12 and also identifies as gay. Right after our exchange of names and schools and right before I asked him what year he was in, I stopped myself and went straight for it: “Tell me about your experience being in the LGBTQ community while going to school in Kentucky”. BOOM! He looked a bit taken aback by the question and I started regretting my decision. He tilted his head to the side, looked at the floor and started rubbing his chin. Suddenly, 30 minutes passed as he was telling me about a horrible but character- defining incident, the people in his life who stuck up for him, and how lucky he is to live in a city where he is much more accepted than the rest of the state and his native country. It was beautiful.

In the days that followed, we would happily run into each other and exchanged our excitement for the day’s itinerary. By the end of our time in Orlando we said our goodbyes, and as he hugged me for the last time he smiled and said, “if you ever need anything or if you’re ever in town, you always have a place to stay.” And that, to me, is real networking.

Annual Session 2017: A Brief Recap

Annual Session 2017 has come and gone. After five fervent days in Orlando of legislative meetings, resolution debate, emotional elections, and evening festivities, ASDA has launched itself into the year ahead. Here are some highlights from the week:

-Colorado took home the Gold Crown Award for Best Chapter Blog. 

-John Luke Andrew (Colorado '18) was elected District Nine Trustee. He'll oversee the dental schools from Colorado, Texas, and Oklahoma.

-Houston ASDA became the new top dog with their well-deserved win for Ideal ASDA Chapter. Their very own Tanya Sue Maestas also became the new ASDA National President. District Nine continues its prolific reign (Colorado was last year's Ideal ASDA). #D9sofine

-Becky Bye (Colorado '18 and current Colorado Chapter President) authored and defended a resolution to unify all dental schools with one degree (eliminating either the DDS or the DMD). This topic will likely become a major player at future meetings. #1profession1degree

-The continual battle to remodel the licensure exam continues. The new Executive Counsel intends to make great strides in coming up with a system that benefits both the students and is mindful of the patients.

-Dr. Christian Piers (Colorado '16) concluded his influential and devoted service to ASDA with his role as this year's Immediate Past President. I'm sure we haven't seen or heard the last from Dr. Piers (and we certainly hope not).

-Nothing keeps Colorado from going to the beach. Even if it's hurricane-like rain. Worth it? Absolutely.

-Some of our members had the (mis)fortune of being stuck on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World. They were rewarded with an extended stay in the park and free rides. I don't think they were too upset...

Thank you to everyone who contributed to The Colorado Quickset over the past year. Colorado truly knows how to make the magic happen.




The Election: A Sweeping Impact on Dentistry

On Tuesday, November 2nd (or early the next day), millions of Americans retired to their beds. As they closed their eyes, some felt hopeful and excited; others felt angry, depressed, or even confused. Regardless of the divergent emotions that night, the sun still rose in the morning. Life continued, as it always does. Now that the election frenzy has subsided, we can begin to examine the impact our newly elected leaders, referenda, amendments, and miscellaneous ballot initiatives can have on our personal and professional lives. As a lawyer and self-proclaimed political junkie, I spend a substantial amount of my free time fixated on articles and news commentary about the candidates, the issues, and the future. After countless hours of examining the impact of our new president, the power dynamic within Congress, and my local elections, I must confess that I cannot make any concrete assessments at this point.fullsizerender-3

However, I can conjecture what the main issues confronting dentistry and health care will be based on my own perspective and that of the ADA. I will continue to examine how the new administration, nationally and locally, will shape the future of these issues.

According to the ADA website, the main issues its advocacy branch monitors include access to dental care (including health insurance coverage), health care reform vis-à-vis the Affordable Care Act, and continuing oral health science and research initiatives at the federal level. Additionally, the ADA routinely reviews regulatory issues that face dentists as employers and business owners—from taxes, workforce safety requirements (i.e. the regulation of amalgam), labor and employment laws, and Medicare coverage for patients.

In addition to the issues that the ADA has identified, I also hypothesize that the general cost of health care and drugs will affect dentistry either directly or indirectly. As many have noted, non-dental insurance premiums have risen significantly and will continue to do so. Many blame the Affordable Care Act as the culprit. Regardless, those who must pay heftier insurance fees may exhaust any allotted funds they had for healthcare in general. Thus, it is possible that those most stretched by increases in insurance will forego dental treatment.

Additionally, the shifting environment of drug regulation may impact dentistry. Over the past year, senators and political candidates have questioned why some life-changing, necessary drugs come with exorbitant price tags, precluding many patients from taking them. The drug companies have responded that the price reflects the cost of investment in research, development, and the countless clinical trials required by the FDA to bring that drug to market. Since dentistry strives for continuous improvements to its techniques and methods, this issue may have an impact on the rate of investment in private oral health-related R&D.

I remain cautiously optimistic that regardless of this year’s election outcome, the dental profession will continue to thrive, and patient care will continue to improve. Members of our profession are passionate about improving dentistry, and will do whatever it takes to make it better. We are also fortunate to have one of the most successful national lobbies in history, which continuously advocates for patient’s interests and our personal interests. With a high percentage of dentists being members of the American Dental Association, the collective voice of dentists is one that lawmakers hear loud and clear.

As members of the dental profession, a profession that has a large health and economic impact on our country, it is imperative for all dentists and dental students to stay apprised of the political landscape. We must proactively work to make oral health care better for our patients and our own livelihood. Otherwise, we might wake up to a political climate that contradicts our profession altogether.

National Leadership Conference 2016: Key Takeaways

img_2912 A truly historic and special weekend in Chicago happened to fall on the same weekend of ASDA’s National Leadership Conference this year. With the Cubs winning it all and the Ireland v. New Zealand rugby matchup the next day, the city was alive and buzzing. The energy of the city undoubtedly seeped its way into the already hyped up leadership conference. Opening the conference was keynote speaker Adam Kreek, an Olympic gold medal rower who took us through his journey rowing across the Atlantic Ocean and his subsequent trials and tribulations. His message on achieving happiness was simple and consisted of the fantastic four: health, relationships, community involvement, and self-awareness. Happiness is not, however, achieved through money, fame, and beauty.

The carefully selected speakers and quality content are what make the NLC one of the best dental student conferences in the country. Every year, Colorado ASDA sends our members to build a network with 600 other dental students while growing and developing as leaders. Although there is nothing like being present at the conference, it is worth sharing some of the gems and takeaways from the breakout sessions. Here are some of my notes from a couple of sessions:



Building Your Personal Brand

By Dr. Ryan Dulde

  • A personal brand is a true story about who you are and why you matter. If you don’t know, there is no way anyone else does.
  • Brands are not invented. Find something real. Make it intentional.
  • Brands set expectations, start relationships, and make you unique.
  • Futuredontics conducted a survey to figure out why people go to the dentist. Here are some of the results: 70% go for ratings, 70% education background, 70% location and availability, 80% insurance, 86% scope of services.
  • Would you go back to the dentist? Here’s what people are concerned about: 87% say it’s important that the dentists is cost sensitive, 91% want cleanliness, 91% want upfront costs, 93% want options well explained, and 95% want quality work.
  • Without a brand you are just a commodity.
  • A great brand does not leave its story to chance.


How Not to Fail Miserably in Private Practice

By Dr. Chris Salierno (Chief Editor for Dental Economics)

  • It is important to take the pulse of your practice.
  • Take a look at your practice daily, monthly, and quarterly to assess how you are doing.
  • Daily: How much did you produce? How much did you collect?
  • Monthly: Productions, collections, and new patients.
  • Quarterly: Income statement, profit and loss statement.
  • The overhead monster: the national average for dental office overhead is 75%.
  • Goals for overhead by specialty:
  • 59% for GP
  • 42% for Endo
  • 49% for Ortho
  • 49% for Pedo
  • 50% for OMFS
  • 51% for Perio
  • 64% for Prost
  • Overhead breakdown for GP practice:
  • Staff = 25%, Lab = 10%, Rent = 5%, Supplies = 5%, Misc. = 14%, this leaves you with a 41% Net Income.
  • Patients don’t care about what you do in their mouth unless it hurts, turns black, or falls out.
  • The patient experience starts before you meet them.

This is just a snapshot into the 20+ breakout sessions that were offered over the weekend. Other topics included were mindfulness, non-traditional post graduate options, and effective communication. CE credit was given for each session attended and can be used towards an Academy of General Dentistry Fellowship Award after graduation. The closing session was a story told by Doc Hendley, the founder of Wine to Water, and described his journey through Sudan in an attempt to bring clean water to those in need. Side note: A surefire way to make your dental school problems feel small is to do a little research on the water crisis.

The National Leadership Conference attracts students who are excited about dentistry, want to make a difference, and strive to be better leaders. Valuable breakout sessions, CE credit, and epic five star social events in the evenings are all part of the experience. If you are interested in attending a National Leadership Conference in the future, be sure to ask how you can get involved!



DENVER, Colorado—The Colorado Dental Board voted to amend their licensure policy to accept all existing licensure pathways including all regional clinical examinations, PGY-1, hybrid-portfolio, and the OSCE.

ASDA has been working for some time now to make changes to the current licensure model that includes the use of live-patient exams. Little by little, steps have been taken in Colorado to ensure that this change would happen.

In 2013, DORA released a document as part of the Sunset Review stating that one of their top 3 “Key Recommendations” was to revise the clinical examination requirements for the state in order to allow acceptance of alternative licensure pathways including those that do not require a live patient.

In 2014, the state adopted new wording to the Dental Practice Act adding letter C to statute 12-35-119 (1) saying that the state will accept “other methodology, as determined by the board, designed to test the applicant’s clinical skills and knowledge, which may include residency and portfolio models” in lieu of a traditional live-patient clinical exam.

And lastly, just this year, the Colorado Dental Board amended their 1.A Clinical Examination policy to officially accept all existing licensure pathways in the US including all regional clinical examinations (ADEX administered by CITA and CDCA, CRDTS, SRTA, and WREB), the completion of a PGY-1 program or hybrid-portfolio model from the state or jurisdiction where licensure was originally obtained, and the Canadian OSCE for initial licensure, making Colorado the first state to make this change.


Here is what we know:

  • You can take any regional clinical examination to apply for initial licensure in Colorado
  • You can take the Canadian OSCE to apply for initial licensure in Colorado
  • If you went to school in California and were licensed via the hybrid-portfolio model, you can now apply for licensure in Colorado
  • If you went to school and were licensed in a state that accepts PGY-1 (a one-year residency), you can now apply for licensure in Colorado

Although some details are not known at this time, this is a huge step forward for licensure reform in the United States.

Stay tuned for updates and more information as we receive it. Get all the news first right here with Colorado ASDA on your number one advocacy blog—the Colorado Quickset.