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UMDS Advocacy Day in Annapolis

Written by Adam Zewe and Marcelena S. Holmes, MPA, MA

A team of students, faculty and staff spent an entire day in the state capitol on Feb. 10, talking to legislators about issues that impact dental education. Dean Christian S. Stohler, DMD, DrMedDent, and University President Jay A. Perman, MD, led a 20-member delegation from the dental school.

The delegation, which met in the Senate Finance Committee Chamber, was greeted by Sen. Thomas Middleton (D-District 28). Small groups including students, faculty and staff met individually with representatives from both chambers. Legislators were astonished to learn that dental school clinics served nearly 30,000 patients last year and provided $16.5 million in uncompensated and undercompensated care. Students expressed their need for more scholarship funding, since the average debt for most graduates is $146,000. "I think it is important for students to participate in this event because legislators really do want to hear what we have to say. We are the future of this country," explains Emily Dashiell, a dental hygiene student.

Senators and delegates applauded dental school representatives for their commitment to meet statewide oral health care shortages. Delegation members urged legislators to support Gov. Martin O'Malley's budget for the University of Maryland.

Dental student Jonathan Soistman and his colleagues saw government at work while observing an active session of the legislature. "I was impressed by the number of delegates who took the time to meet with us individually and discuss some of the issues we are concerned with in dentistry," says Soistman. Del. Keith Haynes (D-District 44), in a private session, commended the dental school for its commitment to education and service to the community.

"The current state of the economy of our country made this year's Advocacy Day a special one. Good things come out of tough times and surely this year's Advocacy Day was a big step toward a better future," remarks dental student Salar Sanjari.

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