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!

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.

ADEA 2018 Fall Session Reflection #3

Overall, I was extremely impressed by the ADEA Fall meeting and how organized ADEA as a whole is. I only recently became involved with ADEA last year when I joined the Executive Board, so I was unaware of the multitude of councils that exist, including the Council of Students, Residents, and Fellows (COSRF), Council of Deans, Council of Faculties, and many more! I appreciated that there were tailored presentations and talks for each council, because it made the experience that much more worthwhile to know I was learning about things directly pertinent to me.  For example, the presentation about how to pay back loans through public service was a new discovery! The average national dental student debt is $285,184, so it was incredibly relieving to hear about another way to pay back debt that would also benefit the community. I have always been passionate about community dentistry and I have been looking for ways into community dentistry that would be a financially viable option. The Public service loan repayment program is exactly that!

I also thought that the two lunch plenary sessions were particularly thought provoking. The first session was called “What’s next in Health Care and Higher Education”, which described the trends seen in dentistry and dental educators. Dr. Valachovic’s use of diagrams, charts, and infographics really helped nail the point home that dentistry is becoming more diverse overall in terms of race, gender, and ethnicity! This was especially inspiring to hear because healthcare as a whole needs more representation and this was a positive step in achieving that. Dr. Valachovic then went on to describe the different career paths that new dental graduates undertake. Unsurprisingly, private practice and dental residency were the two highest activities, at 47.9% and 35.9% respectively in 2018. However, I was shocked to learn that less than 10% of graduates work in the public sector, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, federal service, nonprofits, or state/local government employees! Even more so, only 0.3% of students went to become a faculty or staff member at a dental school! That last statistic had a lasting impact on me, because if so few of the new generations of dentists are willing to teach, who will continue on the dental education when the older faculty retire? What will become of dental schools if no one is willing to teach? That was the moment I really realized how valuable and how important having an organization like ADEA was. ADEA is “the voice of dental education” and it’s up to all of its members nationwide to take strides to improve dental education in all facets. As a student and as a post-graduate chair at our chapter, I am more motivated to provide career resources about dental educators to UCSF students! More so now than ever, it is necessary that we begin training and cultivating the next batch of dentists who will shape the future curriculums of dentistry. It will not be easy to create a shift in this trend, but if every COSRF student went back to their chapters and held one event to expose their student community to dental education, then slowly but surely I think we can change this!

ADEA 2018 Fall Session Reflection #2

The national ADEA chapter is growing fast. With the help of established chapters, like UCSF in the Council of Students, Residents, and Fellows, ADEA local chapters have been coming to fruition across multiple dental schools. Forty-eight of the sixty-six US dental schools to be exact. How has this process been stream-lined? By coming together and combining all the successful tips and tricks from all the local chapters into a handy document called a ADEA Chapter Toolkit for Students, Residents and Fellows. This page on the ADEA website is a result of ideations at the Fall and Annual Meetings. The benefit of this website has been priceless as its helped many of the new chapters get a strong foundation, and helped older chapters get new ideas to help promote dental education and ADEA as a whole. UCSF’s local student chapter is one of the longest standing chapters in ADEA. Our contribution into the toolkit has been ample ideas of events that have had successful outcomes and helped our students understand what dental academia looks like and can provide.

What does UCSF plan on doing with this toolkit? We hope to continue to build on it from our local chapter, extrapolate ideas from it, and collaborate more with other local schools to help build camaraderie! With Loma Linda University starting their new chapter, UCLA going into their third year of their chapter, and UOP looking for ways to get more students involved, UCSF has been able to help by being in close proximity and on the same time zone! As of now, one of our mini goals within the local chapter is combining events with our cross town school to give our students a mix of academic taste in the private school and public school setting. We foresee this being a benefit to our students as many of them always have questions about private school and public school environments!

Our local chapter will continue to host events for our students that have had continuous positive feedback in the past. We are also putting all hands on deck in supporting Western University as they are hosting the next West Coast Dental Hack-a-thon that was started by one of our very own here last year at UCSF. This year, we anticipate having a equal number of students from all district 11 schools to attend as well as students from schools in district 9. Our chapter growth and new ideas could not have been possible if we didn’t have our enthusiastic ADEA members attend meetings like Fall and Annual. Our eager students continue to be excited about what’s to come for ADEA and dental academia. What better way to learn and hear about it than from the creators and the backbone of dental education themselves?

ADEA 2018 Fall Session Reflection #1

This past October, my colleagues and I had the wonderful opportunity to head to ADEA’s first ever international Fall Session, held in Ontario, Canada. What a great experience it was to be part of this new venture of ADEA into Canada and immerse myself in this dynamic field of education and change. Our UCSF groups had a warm welcome from the cohort of dental students from Toronto and we were lucky to be involved in one of the highest attended fall sessions of ADEA’s Council of Students, Residents and Fellows (COSRF) in years. Last year I was grateful to have the opportunity to attend the Fall Session for the first time, and I left feeling invigorated and feeling very connected to ADEA and our mission as a national organization. This year, I have the pleasure of serving on our District’s newfound cabinet as District Deputy Commissioner, and as such I had a completely different lens going into Fall Session. With a better overall understanding of ADEA, our vision as a District, and our goals and accomplishments as a chapter, I was able to step back and spend more of my time connecting to other students from other schools and personally speak with them about new ways they can continue growing their chapters. I also had such a fun time observing our second-year students from UCSF branch out, network, and progressively see their passion for ADEA grow throughout the course of the weekend. We left with many new ideas for fundraising and improving current events that we hold and created new platforms for collaboration with other chapters nearby. ADEA on the west coast, and in particular within District 11 is continuing to grow, and UCSF definitely continues to set the gold standard. I am so proud of UCSF ADEA for setting such a great example of chapter accomplishments, and happy to see the level of engagement our attendees had throughout the event. I feel confident about the next generation of dental educators, as well as our leadership at the local level for years to come.

Dinner With 8 Strangers

When Sammi Yu ‘20 pitched the idea of “Dinner With 8 Strangers” to me, I just knew I had to say yes! As a relatively new addition to the School of Dentistry faculty, I jumped at the opportunity to spend some time with a small group of dental students outside of school and away from the responsibilities of patient care. Even though each UCSF predoctoral class is relatively small (85 degree candidates per year is small compared to the 280 in my D1 class at NYU!), four years is hardly enough time to get to know all of my students as well as I’d like to, especially when at least 50% of that time is spent giving out Axium swipes. Plus, there would be FOOD involved in this experience. How could I say no?

On Friday, May 4th, my eight strangers and I made our way to Buffalo Theory with inflatable light sabers in tow. (Why the light sabers, you ask? Because Star Wars Day! May the Fourth Be With You!) Over the next few hours, we shared small plates, big laughs, and our most outrageous dental school stories and memories. Since most of my time at UCSF is spent with D3s and D4s in the predoc clinic, it was awesome to be able to hear the D1s and D2s reflect on their dental school experience so far and listen as the senior students offered insight and advice on how to successfully navigate the next two years of their training. We finished up the night by heading down the street to grab some freshly baked doughnuts at Bob’s Donuts. What a treat! Many thanks to the UCSF ADEA student group for arranging this event. I look forward to taking out another group of 8 Strangers next time!