Posts tagged American Student Dental Association
Lobby Day: What You Need to Know

lobby day National Dental Student Lobby Day: my first national meeting and what I would consider the beginning of my involvement with ASDA. Attending what is considered the most influential annual meeting that ASDA holds every year was an honor, and I’m glad to be able to attend again this year. This is an event where over 400 students from schools nationwide come together to lobby about important issues in organized dentistry as a unified voice, seeing that changes occurring in the profession are brought about by the ones who know it best: dentists and dental students.

As the newly appointed vice president of Colorado ASDA and first legislative liaison, it is my responsibility to relay information and updates about any current issues in dentistry. This entails being up-to-date on current legislation that could pass, or has passed, in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. Although these are my duties as the first legislative liaison, it is in everyone’s interest to remain engaged during the legislative process involving these issues because decisions made in the coming years will affect all of us within the profession. While I’m not expecting everyone who reads this to try and set up meetings with legislators (frankly I’m happy you’re still reading), I would like people to be informed with what is going on in the world of organized dentistry, and what issues we are lobbying for in DC this Tuesday. Mid-level providers, access to care, licensure, and student debt are a few considerable issues that are of concern. Student debt and access to care specifically are the two that ASDA has decided to focus on at National Lobby Day this year. Two bills aimed at helping lower student debt are H.R. 649 (Student Loan Refinancing Act) and H.R. 4223 (Post Grad Act). The Student Loan Refinancing Act would allow graduates to refinance their student loans if a lower interest rate becomes available down the road. The Post Grad Act would make it much easier to get subsidized student loans while in school, meaning that students would not accrue interest while in school as well as for six months post-graduation. If both of these bills were to pass, students would have the potential to save tens of thousands of dollars! The third bill that will be lobbied for on Tuesday is H.R. 539 (Action for Dental Health Act of 2015) and addresses the access to care issue. The Action for Dental Health Act of 2015 would allow programs such as Mission of Mercy (MOM) and Give Kids a Smile to apply for readily available funds (around $15 million) that the CDC has set aside for public health projects. This bill is an amendment to the Public Health Service Act due to its current exclusion criteria regarding what sort of organizations can apply for these funds.

Albeit somewhat brief, this is what is going on in the world of organized dentistry at the current time! It would not surprise me if most of this information is foreign to you, but I hope that this new knowledge you now possess will motivate you to stay informed on the current issues in our profession.

Getting Involved in ASDA - Yes, Even as a First Year

reanna blog As a first year dental student, orientation is the first time you hear about a cascade of topics including class expectations, financial aid, student health insurance,  and campus resources.  Then student organizations are introduced, with each group talking about the focus and mission of that association.  Feeling a little overwhelmed but following along, I had a question, “Which group will aid my success throughout dental school and into my career?”

I found my answer within ASDA. My appreciation did not instantly come over a cup of joe with an ASDA leader. Instead, I used the first semester of dental school to test out a multitude of events hosted by a variety of societies. I found myself supplementing my classes with ASDA-run lunch and learns on dental issues—financial stability, corporate dentistry, dental saturation in Denver, etc. As a first year, practicing dentistry can seem like a dream with a very long day of work before that prize. ASDA’s frequent meetings remind me that it is important to become aware of the issues and changes surrounding my career now, even if my reward of practicing is three years away. These lunch and learns also clarified the importance of continuing involvement as a dentist, so that when I’m able to practice, I can transition from being a voice in ASDA, to being a voice of an involved, contributing dentist.

I guess I went to more ASDA events than I realized because in December, our ASDA president notified me that I had earned the most diamonds out of our chapter members. Diamonds are a form of ASDA currency for attending events, and with them, I was able to receive funding for the ASDA Annual Session in Dallas, TX this March. Before Annual Session, I saw ASDA as strong presence at CU for its ability to inform students, encourage community involvement, and provide networking experiences.  After, I saw an even bigger community.

Annual session introduced me to ASDA’s ability to unify dental students’ opinions and concerns into one powerful voice that, as I saw first-hand in Dallas, brings about change for our current position as students and future career as dentists. That’s power. Becoming involved in ASDA is not becoming involved in a CU Dental organization—it’s building yourself as a professional through becoming an active part of an influential, national voice.

For me, the days of orientation are over.  I don’t need to look around at student associations and wonder what each one offers. ASDA allows members to be as involved as you want, whether it’s in social media, community outreach, pre-dental involvement, business chair, social events, health and wellness, etc. It is an environment to excel, specifically in an area that interests you. For me, ASDA is the student organization that most allows me to grow my professional career outside the classroom. “The how” I got involved was a process accelerated by the many opportunities ASDA provides, and “the why” continues to grow as my involvement with ASDA increases.

An ASDA President's Farewell

12800197_10206261926216517_2092620955632573227_n This blog post is adapted from a letter originally published via email on March 2, 2016. This post is reprinted with permission from the American Student Dental Association. For more dental student news and updates, visit


ASDA has had a remarkable past year as an association, and personally this year has been one of the wildest, most fulfilling experiences I could have imagined.  From the 2015 election in Boston to National Dental Student Lobby Day in Washington DC to National Leadership Conference in Chicago to our House of Delegates in Dallas, this year has been a whirlwind of challenge and excitement.  Because it's difficult to get an accurate sense of what it's like to serve on ASDA's Executive Committee, I’d like to share some insights about our work over these past 12 months.


Wellness Initiative

As I was reading over farewell speeches given by ASDA presidents over the past ten years, I came across the one delivered by Jiwon Lee, and I was reminded again what an intelligent, insightful, talented leader she was. Jiwon was ASDA's immediate past president when we lost her to suicide just a couple months after she gave that speech to open ASDA's 44th Annual Session.


That loss is still difficult for those of us who knew and worked with Jiwon, but one of ASDA's most important accomplishments this year - the one that makes me most proud to be a part of this association - has been the continued rollout of the Wellness Initiative that we launched in response to her passing.


That initiative has expanded from a mental and emotional focus to include ASDA's five dimensions of overall wellness. Each of those dimensions — emotional, physical, intellectual, occupational, and environmental — has a separate section on our website with a variety of ASDA and external resources that are updated throughout the year. This is in addition to:

  • Monthly wellness challenges like "going dark for 24 hours"
  • The testimonials you heard at NLC about addiction and overcoming obstacles in dental school
  • The upcoming wellness webinars that will kick off this month
  • And the fact that the AADEJ selected the Wellness Issue of Mouth for the Larry Meskin Award for Excellence in Dental Student publications — and furthermore, that content from that issue will be re-published this month in the Journal of the California Dental Association.

Because of course, this is about much more than fun runs and catchy hashtags. This is about the fact that dental school can be a dark time. And many of us haven't experienced that — we made it through undergrad as the helpers, not the helped. But we need to destigmatize the idea of being helped. If you log onto our website, you can click on your school and learn how to connect with the wellness resources offered by your university. Yes, dental school is hard on your mind, hard on your body, and hard on your spirit — and you're not the only dental student who feels like that. ASDA's Wellness Initiative is here because we want to be able to show you where to turn.


Student Debt

Another major development that's going to affect dental students this year is the work of the ADA's Student Debt Work Group. According to ADEA, the average dental student debt for 2015 graduates is $255,567. ASDA participated in that work group, which was chaired by ADA Trustee and former ASDA Board Liaison, Dr. Jeffrey Cole. The group secured a deal with Darien Rowayton Bank (DRB) that will allow dental students to refinance their loans at much lower rates upon graduation.


Licensure Reform

I told all of you last year that licensure reform would be my top priority. Many now agree that our licensure system is broken, but there is still little consensus about which path to take in fixing it.  There are many organizations advocating for different pathways to licensure reform, but there's only one American Student Dental Association.


This past July, the Board of Trustees revisited the idea of our ideal licensure examination and passed an interim L-1 policy that has allowed the Executive Committee to be extremely nimble and clear in advocating for reform. And not just reform -- but the right reform.  I was honored and proud when the House of Delegates approved that policy at Annual Session last week.


If you haven't had a chance to review the policy, do so now. This policy is empowering us — and things are changing. Because of the way candidacy for licensure is determined, reform can't be accomplished by any kind of sweeping federal legislation. Licensure is a state's rights issue, so change on the licensure front has to happen on a state-by-state basis. You can imagine that running 50 separate reform efforts is a daunting task, and it is. But change is happening, however incrementally.


ASDA's power is in its voice, because we are the future of the profession. I'm looking forward to hearing that voice in the coming days.


Final Thoughts

I really credit the Board of Trustees for the decisions they've made to steer ASDA in the right direction. Our Board members are dental students with exams, practicals, and competencies like the rest of us, but they've turned themselves into experts on the issues that affect dental students in order to make decisions for the best interest of everyone. Thanks to all of them, including our inexhaustible Colorado ASDA president and District 9 Trustee, Kyle Larsen. And I especially want to thank my fellow Executive Committee members — Adrien Lewis, Niveditha Rajagopalan and Nancy Honeycutt — for their humor, talent, stamina and intelligence.


One of the greatest challenges about ASDA's leadership structure is that we serve one-year terms, which means our leaders turn over almost completely every year. But this is also one of ASDA's greatest strengths. It gives every set of ASDA leaders exactly one year to aggressively throw themselves into the fight for ASDA's initiatives, and then turn that work over to a new group of fresh, creative minds.


I think this is so incredible because it gives our association the ability to reevaluate ASDA's direction through new eyes every single year. It's such a gift to know that Adrien, Niv, and I will pass our work on to a new Executive Committee that can analyze and critique what we've done, and potentially take this association in a direction the three of us could never have imagined. It's not with a heavy heart that I'm ending this term - it's with a happy one. I can't wait to serve in a supporting role for the next leaders of this association.


I feel so humbled to have had the chance to serve you as president this year.  I see bright, exciting futures ahead for all of our members, and I feel fortunate to have been a part of an association that's making our collective future brighter by the day.


Thank you,


Christian Piers, Colorado ‘16

ASDA Immediate Past President

What Does It Mean to Be Ideal?

12829541_10153992014986465_2465502975469493207_o I-de-al (adj):  satisfying one's conception of what is perfect; most suitable.

Ideal is a word we think we understand. A word we often use to describe our goals and ambitions. A word we hope people use to describe us. Colorado ASDA recently won the Gold Crown Award for Ideal ASDA at the 2016 Annual Session in Dallas, Texas.  This means that our chapter, among the 65 ASDA chapters nationwide, exemplifies what is considered a perfect ASDA chapter.

Ideal ASDA means our chapter successfully completed items in multiple categories such as membership, communication, activities, pre-dental involvement, and advocacy. On a chapter level, membership, communication, and activities are the direct benefits a student has by being involved at the local level. This includes the how-to guides, TAD talks, lunch and learns, as well as leadership opportunities. Remember back to 2013 and imagine what ASDA looked like then: basically free pizza only 3 times a semester or so. A huge improvement in our chapter involved delegating fundraising, which resulted in students being served gourmet meals several times a week, and learning about our sponsors simply for being an ASDA member.

To the shock and dismay of the admissions committee, students do not seek out community outreach activities once accepted into dental school, yet many still want to be involved. Our ASDA chapter organizes community outreach opportunities for those individuals, and provides a variety of ways for students to give back to our community. These frequent events are some of the best opportunities for members to get involved in our chapter without committing to a leadership position.

Not only does our chapter provide for the students of our own dental school, but Colorado ASDA is a huge resource for pre-dental students in the state. One of the main goals of our chapter is to increase pre-dental involvement, and we have a committee designed to facilitate this. In the past year, our chapter has helped create pre-dental clubs at our local universities, as well as involving pre-dental students in dental school such as a leadership workshops.

Perhaps the most beautiful part of being Ideal ASDA, is that we give a home to everyone who wants to participate, whether it’s just attending lunch and learns or  obtaining a leadership position. ASDA is unique in that it is the only organization at our school that all students are members of. If it weren’t for the efforts of our leadership and the participation of our membership, our chapter could never have achieved the prestigious Ideal ASDA award. Thank you to all of our members for making this the best chapter ever!


If you want to become more involved in our chapter, please contact any Colorado ASDA Executive member.

Crowned by the Crown Council

crown It was after my first year of dental school that I was asked to participate in Crown Council. With a direct question like that, and with a title like Crown Council, I felt like I should have known exactly what Crown Council was. Yet, at that stage of my dental school career, I barely knew how to cement a crown, nevertheless know what this “Crown Council” was.


The question was posed by Dr. Guy Gross, a successful general dentist in Salina, Kansas, and a great mentor of mine. He went on to explain that Crown Council is an international association of leading dental teams dedicated to seeking out and sharing “best practices” in order to improve the quality of care in every area of dentistry. This organization supports both individual and team growth by directing practices to focus on patient services, clinical care, and practice organization. Dentists and their teams have the opportunity to participate in Crown Council through their membership, an annual conference, and an online membership network. The purpose of the Crown Council is to help dental professionals and the members of their teams build a Culture of Success in their professional and personal lives.


When speaking of Crown Council, Dr. Gross had an energy that made me want to learn more about this organization. His explanation was quite thorough, but he did forget to mention one thing—the membership is by invite only. After receiving that invitation and experiencing Crown Council’s Annual Event, I felt like I had been crowned by The Crown Council itself. It is with the generous donation of Crown Council and Dr. Guy Gross’s clinic, New Horizons Dental Care, that I have been able to attend the last two Crown Council Annual Events.


Through the two Annual Events I attended, it was clear there were a couple themes that really resonated within the conference setting. The first theme was Walk like a 10. Crown Council supports their dental teams in ways that make their individual members feel confident, like a “10”. As teams were entering into the conference ballrooms, there were Crown Council representatives greeting everyone by name. This was absolutely a first for me to see in a conference. The representatives checked in with everyone to see how they could help them grow individually and/or as a part of their team.


The second theme works hand-in-fhand with the first theme: all dental teams were there to support each other’s dental practices. In fact, there were multiple times throughout the annual event designated for dentists to work in groups to exchange ideas and answer questions on how to become better providers and team members. Being able to sit in on these mastermind conversations allowed me to envision how much each participating member’s team would grow with these new ideas.


The third theme that was evident in Crown Council was to support the surrounding community. Crown Council is the home of Smiles for Life, a charity program that provides funding to hundreds of children’s charities around the world. The campaign has raised over $36,000,000 over the past 18 years and is the largest campaign of its type in dentistry. One aspect of this charity, supported by many Crown Council dentists, is “Whiten Your Smile and Help a Child”. This program encourages dentists to offer bleaching procedures to interested patients, with 100% of proceeds go to benefit children. Another activity at last year’s Annual Event was stuffing, dressing, and labeling 700 teddy bears, all of which were donated to Primary’s Children Hospital in Salt Lake City.


So what exactly is Crown Council? I like to think of it as an organization that supports you, your team and your community. Lecturers at the annual events focus on motivation, happiness, and health. Crown Council doesn’t exactly focus on clinical skills, but rather it seeks to improve clinical work by being a better individual within the team setting. For example, one day of Annual Session had speakers talking about marketing, reducing stress, healthy eating, proper posture, finances, and making a culture of success. Additionally, their online network allows teams to watch video series, including Skill of the Week and Mentor of the Month. Following these videos allows teams to become stronger and work better together.


My membership to an organization that supports the growth of my future team and the community is something I hope to maintain for the entirety of my dental career. I encourage all students that are interested in a post-graduate support team to look into Crown Council today. I’d be delighted to help recommend you.


Thank you Crown Council and New Horizons Dental Care for an amazing opportunity!

Networking is Not a Dirty Word

Networking PicAt some point, you might have heard the saying, “It’s not who you know, but what you know.”  This advice typically refers to networking with others in an effort to learn from professionals in your industry, exchange useful ideas, and perhaps find your dream job.  

Meeting new people is not only advantageous from a career standpoint; these new relationships may evolve into valuable, lasting friendships that enrich your life professionally and personally.  You might even lock eyes from across the room with a dashing young man (or woman) at a professional function and end up marrying them (well that happened to me, at least).


Despite the positive effects of networking, many people are apprehensive to do so.  Admittedly, the word “networking” may be a turnoff; it sparks various negative connotations of forced, awkward interactions at scheduled happy hours or meet & greets.  Instead of thinking about networking from this perspective, I suggest disposing of that notion altogether and focusing on making new lifelong relationships with people. Below are some tips to keep in mind to start forming meaningful and genuine connections with dentists, fellow students, and other professionals.


  1. Start with the right mindset


To successfully form professional relationships with people, you must be in the right mindset and have the right intentions.   Be sincere with your interactions and get to know people, listening to their stories. I have witnessed too many people networking with the blatant intention of getting a “dream job” or some other self-serving purpose.  This superficial mindset is obvious to most people and is a huge turnoff. Instead, get to know other people for the sake of getting to know them.  This alone is worth the effort of networking.  If other professional opportunities arise from knowing these new people, then that is just icing on the cake!


  1. Put yourself out there


In order to get to know people, especially in a significant way, you must break outside your comfort zone.  This means occasionally foregoing your normal routine to go to events where you might connect with new people.


Situations that might be conducive to meeting new people include organized dentistry events (e.g. CDA, MDDS, dental fraternity study clubs/networking events, etc.) or even striking up a conversation with an interesting guest speaker for a class.  Personally, I have made some great professional and personal connections at college alumni events, social gatherings, and even coffee shops.


Also, keep in mind that some of the best connections you may make are non-dentists!


  1. Keep in Touch


After meeting new people, always keep in touch.  The method of keeping in touch depends on the person, their age, and their position.  For some people, a LinkedIn request may be enough.  However, to form a significant relationship with someone, as with any relationship, both parties must work to maintain the relationship.  This includes periodic emails, phone calls, or even coffee dates.  Just like anything in life, you will get more meaning out of any situation if you put a more sincere and genuine effort into it.


Again, this goes into changing your mindset about networking—you must truly appreciate the value of forming new, meaningful relationships for professional and personal reasons.  Then, you must develop the discipline and willingness to incorporate meeting new people and keeping in consistent contact with them throughout your career.


  1. Pay it Forward


If you choose to embrace the concept of networking and putting yourself out there, never do it for selfish reasons.  The whole point of making a new connection is to develop a reciprocal, fulfilling relationship with another human being.  This is always true for any type of relationship.  With that said, always do your best to also help others along their professional and personal journey, and your efforts will surely be reciprocated in some way.


As you go through life, virtually every encounter you have is “networking”; try to keep an open mind with every encounter—you never know how it can enhance your life and how you may enhance the lives of others.



The Great Dental Therapist Debate

LO-RES-teeth-dentist-97105645 Like many other dental students, I’m from a state that doesn’t have its own dental school. Unfortunately, this leads to a very high lack of access to care for the residents of my home state, New Mexico. When speaking to several members of the NMDA about issues that are impacting our state, the words “mid level care providers” and “dental therapists” inevitably pop up. My basic assumption of these words (which are one in the same) at the time was “a non-dentist” that can perform “dentist” duties. Those are scary words to hear as a dental student, investing hundreds of thousands of dollars and four years of my life, only to have the same job done by somebody who has only received a bachelor’s degree. I decided to dive a little further into the subject about the pros, cons, regulations, and education requirements surrounding the dental therapist…so here we go!


The Basics….  

  • Dental therapists operate under a dentist’s license in an office or satellite clinics. Their basic duties vary depending on each state’s rules.
    • Scope of practice includes fillings, seating crowns, performing extractions, adjusting dentures, diagnosing radiographs, making treatment plans
  • Dental therapists are currently practicing in Minnesota, Maine, and Alaska. There are different names for the profession popping up in legislature all over the country (including Colorado)
  • Two types:
    • Dental therapist-
      • Requires a bachelors’ degree in Dental Therapy with several licensure and competency exams in order to practice. May perform some services under “indirect supervision,” which means a dentist must be on-site to authorizes procedures, or under “general supervision,” which means the dentist is off-site and must still authorize procedures.
    • Advanced dental therapist-
      • Dental therapy degree along with a masters’ degree in Advanced Dental Therapy which requires 2,000 hours of clinical practice and a certification exam. They may do all that a dental therapist can do, and also perform oral evaluations, treatment plans, and non-surgical extractions of teeth.
      • Practices under the supervision of a dentist, but all procedures can be completed under “general supervision.”


The Case FOR Dental Therapists…

  • Contrary to what many believe, there isn’t a lack of dentists in certain “at need” states, rather a lack of distribution. This can be alleviated by dental therapists working at satellite clinics in rural areas addressing basic needs of the community without patients being forced to travel to far-away dental offices.
  • They only perform routine care, so it opens up the dentist’s schedule to perform more complex care like endodontics, prosthodontics, and implantology, while still addressing basic needs of the office’s patient pool. This is viewed as a way to expand a dentist’s practice and maximize profit.



The Case AGAINST Dental Therapists…  

  • It is a common opinion within the dental community that if Medicaid and insurance reimbursements didn’t drive practitioners to lose money on certain procedures, many more would practice in areas where fee-for-service dentistry isn’t the norm. Many dentists believe that more changes to Medicaid and insurance reimbursements need to be made in order to drive practitioners to “low income” areas.
  • States should address access to care issues by reimbursing dentists who work in rural areas. Dental therapists have the ability to work on simple cases, but comprehensive care is the only way to effectively provide dentistry that is at the standard of care.
  • The ADA believes that the “one-size-fits-all” model provided by dental therapists is not the best way to reach populations that live in rural communities.
  • Dentists do not want their profession’s quality to be in jeopardy with the addition of therapists who are less educated in dentistry.


In the end, it is up to YOU as a dental professional to decide what is best for you, and most importantly, the patients in your home state. Being involved in your local ASDA and ADA chapter will make a difference whether dental therapists become a reality where you live.

Baby Dentists

12119502_10207403679632335_268881570_o Sometimes it’s hard to imagine the days before dental school- before the navy blue scrubs, the “conscious incompetence”, the juggling of patients and their demands [“I can only come every other Tuesday… and only in the mornings… oh, and can I come at 9:45 instead of 9?”].


In this sort of tunnel vision, I forget the days when I wanted nothing more than to know the direction my future was headed in Operation: Getting Into Dental School. Where would I live for the next four years? What would I do if I didn’t get in? What the HECK am I doing?


Untangling the confusing web of dental school requirements: prerequisite classes, letters of recommendation, writing a personal statement, studying for the DAT, interviewing…is enough to make my head spin, even to this day.


Although I didn’t decide I wanted to go to dental school until the semester before I graduated from college, the few resources that I took advantage of through my pre-health advisor and club were invaluable. I still have a copy of my mock interview on a DVD tucked away in a drawer in my desk [I’m not sure why I haven’t thoroughly disposed of it-few things are worse than watching yourself on camera].


Somehow I managed to finagle my way into a couple of dental school acceptances, and here I am today, three years later. During my first year, I began volunteering at the ASDA Pre-Dental Committee events and absolutely fell in love. There is no better motivation than to be surrounded by groups of eager pre-dental students dying to be in your shoes, picking your brain, and looking up to you as the All Knowing dental student. For the next two years I filled the role as the ASDA Pre-Dental Chair and continued planning events- wax nights, mock interviews, personal statement reviews, simulation clinic activities…anything and everything that could help these “baby dentists” grow and flourish in their quest to dental school admittance.


Seeing familiar faces in the incoming classes, getting email updates “I got in to dental school!!”, and following the paths of students that I have met during my own “Pre-dental” journey in dental school has been one of the most rewarding.


Bottom line:  You never know who you can inspire. Or who can inspire you.