The Strive for Meaningful Progress in Oral Health

A Reflection of my experience attending the 2021 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition and why you should attend in 2022 
By Sally Zhou, D1 at UCSF 

What ADEA event did I attend? 

I attended 2021 ADEA’s Annual Session & Exhibition. This was the first time in ADEA history that the conference was held completely virtually due to safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Why did I attend? 

I attended the conference to learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on dental education and dental finance. My goal was to influence oral health policy to improve dental educational experiences and promote critical changes in the dental reimbursement system to increase access to oral health care for patients. 

What are three things I learned? 

1) Nobody has all the answers during a pandemic. 2021 ADEA Annual Sessions provided a platform for leadership within the dental education and dental finance space to share stories and lessons learned while maneuvering through challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. I heard from dental faculty describing their difficulties with student engagement while brainstorming ways to make virtual lectures more exciting. I learned about the benefits and disadvantages with regards to tele-dentistry and how this affects the day-to-day operations for dental providers in the industry. Introductions to unique reimbursement models and concepts like value-based care were hot topics of discussion as they are new and innovative ways to promote systemic change in the way oral healthcare is structured in this country. In the end, I realized that everyone has an important role to play, in the attempt to restore a sense of normalcy while embracing changes and innovation during a critical time in history.  

2) Collaboration is key. As the pandemic continues an unpredictable path, it is becoming clearer to me that although no one has all the answers, the possible resolutions to problems lie in collaboration and discussions amongst professionals of various industries. Professionals – including leadership in oral health policy, organized dentistry, dental academia, dental insurance, and Federally Qualified Health Centers – and business leaders involved with the dental supply chain are key players in ensuring an oral health system that serves our patients. At the 2021 ADEA Annual Sessions, I attended many seminars that reported examples of collaboration between dental school faculty, students, and policy makers on addressing the transition to virtual education in dentistry and the implications on the dental school curriculum and dental licensure regulations. In the oral health space, I believe it is a necessity for leaders in various fields to be willing and flexible to change and adapt as patient oral health care needs continue to change throughout a pandemic and beyond. 

3) Take notes, take calculated risks, and take action. As circumstances continue to change during this pandemic, it is important to remind ourselves that everyone is still learning, and nothing is set in stone forever. Attending the ADEA conference offered a place for me to listen to the stories and become aware of the problems in dental education and dental finance. I believe the most important thing is to take all the information that’s known, brainstorm possible resolutions with specialists within and outside of the dental profession and TAKE ACTION. At the end of the day, it is important to remember that nearly nothing happens overnight, and I believe that the change we want to see depends on the steps we are willing to take to achieve our collective goals, no matter how big or small.  

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

A Day in the Life of a D1 (Pandemic Edition)

9AM-12PM: I normally roll out of bed and log onto Zoom where in the morning we have Biomedical Science lectures. Right now, we are learning about microbiology and pharmacology. We get a lot of guest lecturers from different departments which makes lecture a bit more interesting and gives it more variety. It can be tiring watching Zoom lectures for 3 hours, but the professors are nice enough to give us a 10 minute break after each lecture. We also sometimes will have small group activities where we will work on an online quiz together.

12-12:30PM: I try to scarf down my lunch as soon as possible (which is normally leftovers from last night’s dinner) so I can change and hop onto the shuttle to go to clinic. I currently live in the Mission Bay campus which is a 20 minute shuttle ride away from the Parnassus campus which is where the dental clinics are. If I don’t have to go to campus, sometimes I will attend a virtual lunch and learn on Zoom. There are so many clubs that always have informative presentations and guest speakers including ADEA Road to Residency series!

1-4PM: On Friday afternoons, we have clinic where we are in groups of three and we have a different exercise each week. On this day, we were doing a plaque assessment using disclosing tablets. This is where the patient chews a bright pink tablet that stains the plaque on the teeth pink and the student provider would chart the plaque levels on the teeth. Then, the patient would brush and floss their teeth how they normally would and then the plaque levels would be measured again. The student provider will then give the patient proper techniques on brushing and flossing. I was a patient today so it was fun chewing the tablet and seeing which areas in my mouth I could brush better. Some things that we have to be a bit more cautious about during clinic due to COVID is to minimize the production of aerosols. So for this exercise, we were only permitted to use the water in the air/water syringe, but no water.

Letting my clinic mates look at all the wonderful plaque on my teeth!

4-7:30PM: On this particular day, I had signed up for after hours in SIM lab because I had to work on our mounting project for crown and bridge. For this project, we did a crown prep on #30, then took an impression of it then mounted it. The most important part of mounting would be to make sure that the occlusion of the upper and lower arch are correct. Next quarter, we will be waxing #30. There was definitely a lot to learn when mounting, but the D2’s are always willing to help!

My mounting masterpiece! Definitely could be better but a decent first try.

7:30-10PM: After taking the shuttle home, it is probably close to 8PM where I was finally able to relax and eat some dinner. I usually cook some stir fry veggies and tofu (trying to eat more plant based!) with some rice, making a quick and easy dinner. I watched some Netflix while eating and relax for the rest of the night. Today was particularly a busy day, but it is not always like this! There are also days where we only have class in the morning, or finish lab early so there are definitely other times where we have more time to chill and catch up on work. Even though COVID has impacted our D1 experience, I am still grateful to have such supportive classmates and know that we are all in this together!

-June Lee – Class of 2024

Moving into 2020

It’s a new decade! We look forward to finishing up this academic year strong and we have so many plans for Winter and Spring Quarter!

  • True Life: Roads to Residency
  • Dinners with 8 Strangers
  • High School Outreach Conference (HSOC)
  • District 11 Curriculum Hackathon
  • Impressions Conference in Collaboration with SNDA
  • continuation of ADCFP Faculty Panel – Academia series
  • continuation of Why I Teach series

Last Fall Quarter, ADEA had the opportunity to collaborate with other organizations and invite faculty, staff, and residents to host various panels and networking events.

  • Meet the Residents Mixer – a collaboration with Office of Career and Professional Development and UCSF Alumni
  • An Evening with Marry Otto: a Discussion about America’s Oral Health Crisis
  • True Life Series: Dental Residency – Dr. Jean Calvo, DDS, Pediatrics Chief Resident 
  • Why I Teach: Dr. Stephen Connelly, DDS, MD, PhD, FACS
  • ADCFP Faculty Panel: Different Positions in Academia
  • ADCFP Faculty Panel: Balancing Work and Family as a Clinician and Educator
  • ADCFP Faculty Panel: Why I Pursued Academia

We also expanded our board with new D1 and D2 officers! What a big family!

ADCFP Spotlight: Kyu Jin Lee (’20)

The Academic Careers Fellowship Program (ADCFP) provides dental students at UCSF the opportunity to explore academia through faculty mentorship and research- or education-based projects. Read what some of our students are working on below:

My project with Dr. Xenoudi is to figure out the effect of personalities of students and clinic coaches and their group dynamics in the pre-doctoral coaching group setting. The MBTI was performed by both students and coaches with an additional survey which asks how they are doing in the clinic. Results from MBTI were statistically analyzed and survey questions were reviewed to see if there are relevances and whether both parties are experiencing positive or negative relationship.

ADCFP Spotlight: Archnaa Rajasekaran (’19)

The Academic Careers Fellowship Program (ADCFP) provides dental students at UCSF the opportunity to explore academia through faculty mentorship and research- or education-based projects. Read what some of our students are working on below:

I am Archnaa Rajasekaran, final year international dental student and a proud ADEA-ADCFP fellow. My research project aims to identify how effectively treatment planning is done on AxiUm (electronic health record) by the third and fourth year (including IDPs) students of UCSF during an academic year. I am being calibrated to evaluate the  treatment plans prepared by students, which has been a great learning experience.

ADCFP Spotlight: Mariam Abadir (’19)

The Academic Careers Fellowship Program (ADCFP) provides dental students at UCSF the opportunity to explore academia through faculty mentorship and research- or education-based projects. Read what some of our students are working on below:

I am Mariam Abadir a fourth year student in International dental program. My research project as a fellow of ADCFP is about international dentists that enter U.S. dental schools with diverse dental experiences. I have created a survey that has been distributed to former students of the international dental programs of both third and forth years of UCSF and UOP. Our goal of this research is to create a common language between educators and students, that is by having a basic base of understanding of international students’ expectations and their level of expertise to maximize their beneficial educational journey at U.S dental Schools.

ADCFP Spotlight: Wilson Ng (’20)

The Academic Careers Fellowship Program (ADCFP) provides dental students at UCSF the opportunity to explore academia through faculty mentorship and research- or education-based projects. Read what some of our students are working on below:

The UCSF School of Dentistry currently uses E-value for D3/4s in their clinical years to provide general praise or critique for faculty members. In this one-sided interaction, faculty members do not have a way to respond or get more information, unless a personal relationship was built to the point where a student felt comfortable enough to provide face-to-face critique to the teacher. Even then, due to the individual nature of such a rare discussion, there remains loss learning/teaching opportunities for other students, and even other faculty members, who were not participants in the discussion. The main goal of this project is to create a teaching tool in which D3/4 students can anonymously report the student perspective, both positive or negative, on specific interactions and incidences with faculty members. Once enough feedback has been received, a PowerPoint presentation will be used to share the cases with a panel of clinical faculty. All discussion or responses from the faculty will be noted, and “clinical teaching pearls” can be generated that can help improve their pedagogical skills.

ADCFP Spotlight: Punam Patel (’21)

The Academic Careers Fellowship Program (ADCFP) provides dental students at UCSF the opportunity to explore academia through faculty mentorship and research- or education-based projects. Read what some of our students are working on below:

Dentistry is a complex field consisting of many career options, oral health-related topics, and specialties. Unfortunately, many pre-dental students are unaware of the breadth of the field, what it entails, and the options they have, while other undergraduate students do not have the resources to learn more about or consider the field at all. The goal of this project is to assess whether actively reaching out to pre-dental/pre-health students in their own communities and providing information on a broad range of topics within the dental field will encourage them to consider a career in dentistry, dental research, or dental academia. It will evaluate matriculating students’ preparedness and the need for structured informational programs and resources, potentially impacting future pipeline programs and recruitment.

ADCFP Spotlight: Kevin Hildebrandt (’21)

The Academic Careers Fellowship Program (ADCFP) provides dental students at UCSF the opportunity to explore academia through faculty mentorship and research- or education-based projects. Read what some of our students are working on below:

Increasing Value Care in the Pre-doctoral Clinic:

In exploration of a complete dental education experience, the pre-doctoral clinic is a major aspect of student development into future clinicians. Across the country, our students and faculty work together to provide the best care possible while learning procedures, patient management and administrative processing. While the student clinic is a laboratory for learning, it is also a business that produces a product in exchange for compensation from patients and insurers. With this in mind I am working through a retrospective chart audit from the pre-doctoral clinic to evaluate production per chair and number of visits for specific procedures in hopes to develop a further study on improving value and outcomes for the patients and the dental center.