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

My experience as an Admissions Ambassador

Sitting on the other side of the interview table was a surreal experience. For me, it was simply a busy lunch period squished into the middle of my packed class schedule. For the applicant staring at me expectantly, this may have felt like a pivotal moment. I resolved to do my best to treat the short time we shared with respect so that I could learn as much as possible about my interviewee while exemplifying UCSF values in my own conduct. It was an honor to have my feedback be considered as part of the selection process for the incoming class, along with faculty interviews and the holistic application review process.

Now that my involvement in this interview cycle is complete, I would like to share a few tips that I observed made applicants really shine!

  1. Be proud of your story! Hearing about where you grew up, the most important influences on choosing a career in dentistry, your educational history, your past jobs, and more help us to understand who are and what led you to be here today. Sometimes you may be tempted to skim over parts of your story because they may not seem “special” enough. If a simple shadowing experience in a dental office is what convinced you to become a dentist, tell us the whole story about what energized you and inspired you.
  2. Give us the full answer! If we ask you about an experience, go beyond the what and tell us why it was important and how you grew from it. For instance, if we ask about research involvement, tell us more than what the project was about or your findings. Tell us how being involved with research will make you a better dental student, maybe by improving your time management or collaborative skills, or that you are inspired to continue research projects.
  3. Show resilience! We know interviewing is a stressful experience, but if you show us that you are able to roll with the punches with a positive attitude, it tells us a lot about your character and how you will behave under stress. Don’t let an awkward moment shatter your confidence for the rest of the interview.

Good luck to anyone in the process of applying!

Katie Dileo – Class of 2022

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.

Day in the Life at UCSF as a D1

The summer before coming starting dental school, I scoured the web for any information on what my life might look like for the next four years. I watched dental school vlogs, read blogs, scrolled through forums–and found that there really no “typical day” for a dental student. Schedules and routines vary between dental schools, between each year (D1, D2, D3, D4), and from student to student. None of those answers felt satisfactory and I was looking for some way to prepare or ready myself for what lay ahead. Looking back, I don’t think that knowing my future class schedule would adequately prepare me, but I still think it’s fun to get a glimpse into what’s in store! So I’ll be sharing what a day may look like at UCSF as a D1 student. But before I do, here are some things I’ve learned that I would tell my past self on how to prepare for dental school:

  1. Build good study habits. Know how you learn best! If you learn best by sitting in the front row during lecture to stay engaged, do so. If you learn best by watching lecture capture (if your school offers it), do so! Draw diagrams, make charts, read outlines. You know yourself best.
  2. Invest in hobbies outside of school. Dental school is tough and D1 can be especially busy, but don’t forget to take time to invest in activities, interests, and hobbies outside of school. Watch movies, train for a Spartan race, take dance classes, go hiking, pick up a new skill, or learn how to cook. School is important but it isn’t everything!
  3. Take it one day at a time. I sometimes find myself clicking through my calendar looking at deadlines, requirements, and assignments. It can feel overwhelming at times. Be mindful of what’s coming but don’t forget to enjoy what’s in front of you. Every day can be a new challenge but bit by bit, step by step, we all get through it!

Anyways, enough with the unsolicited advice. Here’s a look at a day in the life:


Wake up and get ready for the day! I like to have breakfast and some tea in the morning before heading to class. While it requires me to wake up a little earlier, it helps me wake up fully so I can hit the ground running.


Classes at UCSF start 10 minutes after the hour but when we’re in simlab in the mornings I like to get there a little early to set up and get all my stuff out of my locker. Today is operative so it doesn’t require quite as many materials as crown and bridge. I have a little trolley that helps me transport my stuff from the locker rooms into the simlab — it’s a lifesaver!



In operative today we’re doing a prep and amalgam restoration of #14 MODL+. This is the biggest prep and restoration to date! Though we’ll likely be working with composites for the majority of our careers, we learn doing amalgam restorations at UCSF to practice and develop our hand skills and learn the basics.  


Time for lunch! Lucky for us today there’s a lunch and learn — what’s better than learning about something new while eating some free food? Often different school organizations and groups will put on lunch and learns covering various topics and subjects. A great way to hear more about what’s happening on campus, find out how to get involved, or learn more about the profession of dentistry. Today we learned about community dentistry from Dr. Lin who shared encouraging words about his journey!


Refill on coffee to gear up for the afternoon.


We have lectures scheduled for the afternoon. Thankfully we get little breaks every hour between lectures! We’re currently in the cardiovascular unit — we’re learning about hematosis and other pathologies of the blood and circulatory system.


Classes are done, time to head home after a long, long day. I’ll usually take some time to unwind, it’s hard to dive straight into studying after so much lecture. Maybe watch some Netflix or YouTube and cook dinner before I study. Typically I’ll review the lectures from the day or look over past lectures. It’s important to stay on top of the material since there isn’t much time between exams.


I try to sleep as early as possible — got to get as much rest to wake up and do it all again tomorrow. Goodnight!

16th Annual High School Outreach Conference

On Saturday April 6, 2019, we hosted our 16th Annual High School Outreach Conference at UCSF. Our theme was space and our tag line was “Explore the Unknown at UCSF.” In alignment with our theme, we invited the high school students to reach above and beyond their limits, to really get out of their comfort zones. We welcomed them to participate and engage in every activity we had planned for them. We reminded them to reach for the stars, to ask all of their questions, and to remain curious.

Although we have been hosting this event at UCSF for 16 years now, a lot of people still do not know what the High School Outreach Conference is. This year, we had our first ever videography committee and we will release a new promotional video since there hasn’t been on in nine years. For those that do not know, the High School Outreach Conference is an event in which we bring hundreds of high school students from the Bay Area to UCSF for a fun, educational day where they can learn more about the different healthcare professions. 

This year, we had a planning committee of 23 students from the 7 different programs: Clinical Lab Sciences, Dentistry, Graduate Division, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Physical Therapy. The day of our event, we had over 100 volunteers distributed throughout the day that helped with set up, registration, the different demonstrations or activities, clean up, etc. We were also lucky enough to have DDS/PhD student Shaun Abrams and Clinical Pharmacist Dr. Cocohoba present speak with the high school students about their journeys, offer advice, and inspire the high school students.

Learning CPR during the nursing rotation

Speaking with the high school students reminded me of when I was in high school and when I had dreams of going to dental school. At the end of the event, it sounded like students became more certain of either wanting or not wanting to pursue a career in healthcare. My goals for the students were to have them discover, learn, and grow. I hope that this conference allowed the high school students to get one step closer toward their dreams. 

At the end of the conference after our evaluations and raffle were over, I decided to speak to some of the high school students. There was one student that said, “I did learn a lot. I know that I do not want to go into medicine.” Although this student did not find an interest in a career in healthcare, this student became more certain in their path for the future. That is what the event is meant to do. It is meant to not only inspire the next generation of healthcare providers but to also allow these high school students an opportunity to learn more about themselves and their options for their own futures. I also received numerous emails from parents thanking us for hosting this event, stating that their child got into their car after the conference and said that they were interested in a career in healthcare and did not know that they had so many options before. Commentary like this emphasized how much of a difference we made and how significant the High School Outreach Conference is.

For me, one major takeaway that came from organizing this conference was the importance of teamwork. The High School Outreach Conference ran very smoothly, but it was only because of the team that we had and the leadership that came before me. The previous ADEA Outreach Coordinators, K.C. Hemstreet, Brittany Zhang, etc., paved an incredible path for us to work with and grow from. I was reminded yet again that in your efforts and pursuits, it is vital to bring other people in. Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You will be surprised with how much you can accomplish when you collaborate. 

Keep reaching for the stars.

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.

What a Time to Be Alive

Students are extremely unique. Of course you’re thinking in your head right now, “obviously, Johanna.” Just think about something as simple as where they come from. Some are from another country, underserved, wealthy, a family of educators, a family of entrepreneurs, a family of dreamers, a family of doers, but the common trait that we all have with one another is that students have an opportunity. We have an opportunity to learn more, do more, and be more, especially being in the health profession. To me, this is what makes UCSF so unique. Our diversity allows us to come together day in day out as a team to help generate ideas on how to best reach our local communities. 

During Fall quarter all of our registered campus organizations work tirelessly to layout event blueprints for the students, faculty, and local communities for the winter and spring quarters. This blog will specifically talk about our 12th Annual Student National Dental Association Impressions Conference. Twelve years. For twelve years, our UCSF SNDA Chapter has worked to give back to the underserved/ minority communities in the greater bay area by hosting a day in the life of dental students, providing mentorship and valuable resources on their journeys to their dreams. 

This past weekend, a total of 140 pre-dental students willingly spent their Saturday participating at this event. In addition to the 140 students that attended, there were also more than 70 dental students that donated their free weekend to volunteer, leaving the pre-dental to dental student ratio at approximately 2:1.  This ratio set up opportunities for pre-dental students to learn about the unique and personalized stories of each of the volunteers. It was our hope to give them an impression of their future. SNDA, Hispanic Student Dental Association, and American Education Dental Association, joined forces to provide interview practice, a personal statement workshop, simulation lab experience, and multiple different guest speakers that discussed the many aspects of dentistry in dental school. On top of that, scholarships were also given out to select participants to help contribute to their educational journey.  

Thankless jobs really, but absolutely worth it. At the end of the day pre-dents left excited and inspired to pursue their dreams in the dental field!  

We all come from different backgrounds and we all have different dreams, but the coolest thing is that we all have one similar goal: to make a change. Again this is a collective effort from multiple different organizations and none of this would have been possible if those before us had not paved the way. Dental school is just the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. It is a time for us to learn all that we can learn; it is a time to be alive, be positive, be active, remember our journey, and pay it forward. 

Like our opening speaker, alumni of UCSF, Dr. Muhaimin touched on, never give up or let anyone deter you from what you want because anything is possible if you dream big and work hard at it. 

Thank you!