The Force Behind Advocacy

It has been quite an exciting journey as ADEA’s advocacy chair this year from learning the legislation in motion to participating in lobby days. However, being ADEA’s Advocacy Chair was definitely not the role I had in mind when I started dental school. During orientation, I was introduced to and intrigued by the presence of legislation and public policy that affected the way we learned and dictated how we practiced. I realized that I was a stranger to the legislation that surrounded dentistry. I knew then that I wanted to further understand dental advocacy and help introduce this knowledge to my classmates and colleagues.

During the winter quarter, I was able to collaborate with the National ADEA’s advocacy and government relations team to provide a legislation debriefing to UCSF students. The debriefing included legislation currently on the senate and house floors and bills that were being drafted for student debt relief and financial protection for providers. The team explained the process to which a bill is drafted and passed as well as the implications for us as students and future providers.

Additionally, I wanted to advocate for student learners during these difficult times by collaborating with SPEA to host a Q&A session with Dr. Perkins to address and discuss questions about how decreased sim-lab hours will affect clinic performance, CODA accreditation, and ethical concerns regarding allowing students who’ve had their practice hours decreased to practice in clinic. We wanted students to be able to voice their concerns and the Director of Pre-doctorate clinic AKA Dr. Perkins was open to hearing and addressing our concerns. Dr. Perkins provided great feedback and was sincere in her response to our concerns and addressed concerns regarding the transition from pre-clinic to clinic.

This past year amidst the Covid pandemic, our country showed its lack of infrastructure to protect those most vulnerable — both health-wise and financially. Advocacy is as important as ever. Dentists and medical professionals are voicing our concerns for legislation to control the exploitation of insurance policies and for the government to do their due diligence to protect the financial interest of average individuals during unprecedented time like today. Students and dentists have also continued to voice our concerns to our faculties and representatives to protect the prestige of our education, practices, and health of our patients. To continue to advocacy, I’m planning to attend Capitol Hill Day and continue to learn about the legislation in progress next quarter and hopefully share this information with my colleagues. Advocacy is often forgotten but pertinent to know so we can together understand what’s changing in our field of work and how can we better address these issues as professionals and as a university.

-Kenny Cho – Class of 2024

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