CDA student delegates; strong voice for profession

CDA, TDIC and a coalition of more than 600 organizations consisting of health providers, labor, business, local governments, community clinics and many others recently helped defeat Proposition 46. One of the key factions that assisted in fighting the ballot measure was the dental student delegation of CDA.

Student delegates representing the six dental schools across California participated in the 2014 House of Delegates last month in San Diego. When the topic of Proposition 46 was brought up at the meeting, many of the student delegates in attendance took pride in the fact that they played a part in the No on Prop. 46 campaign.

“It’s definitely an example of how successful and collaborative CDA is,” said Janice Lee, a second-year student delegate at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California.

Lee was able to participate in the No on Proposition 46 campaign on a micro-level at her school. She passed out flyers and educated her fellow students on how the ballot measure would have affected them when they get out of school.

“They were very enlightened and they were more informed,” Lee said. “They were only seeing commercials here and there so being able to present it on a detailed level, I could see how educational it was.”

Proposition 46 was defeated by a 2-to-1 margin in the Nov. 4 election.

Rosemary Tran is a second-year student delegate at the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. Leading up to the election, CDA Immediate Past President, James Stephens, DDS, visited UOP for a lunch-and-learn event. Stephens talked about the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) and the effects Proposition 46 would have on the entire profession if it passed.

“I think it’s so great that Prop. 46 did not pass,” Tran said. “The students at our school wore pins that said ‘Vote No on Prop. 46.’ Not only did they wear the pins, but we were passing out flyers so you could definitely feel that UOP had a good understanding of what MICRA was, what Prop. 46 was and why it was bad.”

Students at the UCLA School of Dentistry even participated in a mock debate on the topic of Prop. 46.

Adrien Hamedi-Sangsari is a fourth-year student delegate at UCLA.

“It’s definitely a prime example of organized dentistry at work and it shows that if we put our effort with other health care professions that we can defeat something that’s better for our patients,” Hamedi-Sangsari said.

Students from every one of the six dental schools in California helped spread the word about the possible implications of Prop. 46. But that isn’t the only topic the California dentists of the future have been following. How to navigate the changing dental benefits marketplace and obtaining the right practice support, among other subjects, are all fresh on the minds of today’s dental students.

And that is where CDA lends them guidance.

“What I love most about CDA is they’re so involved in seeing how the students are going to be affected in the future. Everything CDA does, they’re looking to see what the new generation is going to be affected by when they start practicing,” said Marianne Demirdji, a third-year student delegate at the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry. “We’re a self-perpetuating profession. We have to be kind of at the forefront of our profession to know what’s going on for everyone around us. So if you are here [at the House of Delegates], if you’re part of what’s going on, you’re the one that’s shaping the future for all of your peers.”

Nicholas Bumacod is a third-year student delegate at the Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine and enjoys the networking opportunities at the CDA House of Delegates.

“People that I have met in my first year of dental school, I have developed a relationship with, developed a rapport with over the last two years. And as a third-year, it’s great to see these relationships flourish, grow and I built really strong bonds with people that I see empowering my future,” Bumacod said.

Valentina Zahran, a third-year student delegate at the UCSF School of Dentistry, agrees.

“Being a part of CDA has been this huge, warm welcome to this amazing family of people who have the widest breadth of experiences,” Zahran said.  

The CDA student delegation has been active in the discussions on various issues over the years. In the area of licensure reform in the late ’90s, for example, the students supported ADA and CDA policy changes calling for elimination of the live-patient clinical licensure exam. Students hosted licensure forums at CDA Presents The Art and Science of Dentistry in Anaheim and San Francisco in 2007, bringing together leaders from the Dental Board, CDA and selected dental school deans to discuss the future of licensure. In 2010, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law the nation’s first portfolio-based licensure examination, which gives dental students the option of completing their licensure process through a portfolio examination over the course of their final year in dental school. Licensure by portfolio is now in the implementation phase where the six California dental schools will work toward making portfolio a successful alternative to licensure for California dental students.