Miss out on our District 1 Annual Meeting? Alia Osseiran, Tufts D22, reflects on her experience of the District Meeting at University of New England in Portland, ME:
There’s something cathartic about coloring. I traced over the black lines in white, trying to achieve a BW shade, while a fellow D22 dropped the box on the cartoon molar. The brief break from the ASDA District 1 Annual Meeting was a welcome moment of mindfulness. The conference, held at the University of New England School of Dentistry, took place on January 12, 2019. Earlier in the day Lindsey Janof went over the ASDA mission statement, which includes student wellness. Wellness is an easily overlooked aspect of health – but not for ASDA. I set my goal for the day to be present i.e. focus on the conference and set my impending histology exam aside. Lindsey Janof is the Trustee for our district and was charged with opening the day’s events. As the District 1 Trustee, her job is to facilitate communication between local, district and national ASDA. She, along with the several other cabinet members planed the conference, including the mini-meditative coloring break. Our cabinet seems to walk the walk. Lindsey shared the latest #bewellASDA focus, which appeared the district 1 blog, an article showcasing leaders taking a break from dental school, praising their winter break adventures.
Lindsey continued. I learned of new ASDA initiatives, such as a mentorship program with the Massachusetts Dental Society. I was remined about some of ASDAs highest priority advocacy issues; the licensure exam, barriers to care and enormous student loan debt. But the idea of representation really resonated with me. ASDA represents the voice of all dental students in the nation. ASDA advocates for dental students’ rights, they speak to legislatures and shape the future of the dental profession. I want to be a part of that mission – attending the district meeting felt like an easy way to contribute. Even for those aspiring dentists with a political aversion, Jeff Kerst, ASDA Vice President, reminded us that we are all leaders. Just being in dental school is an accomplishment and many will look to follow. Jeff challenged us to build trust among our community. His lecture was inspiring, and I felt lucky that he was elected to represent our voice.
Most of the conference took place in Innovation Hall. Although UNE is a new dental school, this auditorium still shows clues from its former life as a Army National Guard armory, including a towering vault door. I asked a friend and future colleague Jessica Boucher why she decided to make the trek up to UNE. “I think it is important to take an active role in my dental education, and ASDA is a great outlet to do that. Our board exams are changing, hopefully our licensing exams too. I wanted to attend the conference to learn about what is happening in our field, specifically, how our district is involved.” She was pleased with the conference and recalled Kalp Juthani, Tufts ADEA Class Representative & District 1 Commissioner, discussing the initiatives and cross-over between the American Dental Education Association.
Several sponsors provided lectures on dental technology. Aspen Dental and Heartland Dental sent speakers who were recent graduates. In addition to a real look at general dentistry, practicing Invisalign and digital scanners, they were so candid about their practice, their first jobs out of dental school and their lifestyle. Rah-Taja Doggett had the chance to speak with Dr. Nathan Oakes after his lecture. He offered his personal perspective. She was impressed with the level that networking took place throughout the day. “I loved the feeling of unity among the ASDA District 1; past, present and future dental students were coming together. The dental community is real.” Being an active member of ASDA makes the community tangible.
The final stop for the conference was at Bayside Bowling. I searched for the lightest bowling ball possible – cannot have a sore wrist for my competency this week! At the end of a long day, I could feel the energy in the room, or on the bowling lane, as it were. There was something indulgent about spending the entire day away from textbooks. But like coloring it was guilt-free stress relief.