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Students and Faculty Advocate for UMSOD in Annapolis

Written by Adam Zewe

A delegation of University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) students, residents and faculty members spent the day meeting and educating legislators in Annapolis during UMSOD Advocacy Day on Feb. 13.

The group, led by University President Jay A. Perman, MD, and Dean Christian S. Stohler, DMD, DrMedDent, emphasized the mission of the School of Dentistry to improve oral and overall health among Marylanders. President Perman, addressing students, discussed their future roles in health care delivery. "You, who are the future of dentistry, need to see yourselves as part of health care delivery. You are not a peripheral part - you are a very central part of a group of professionals who make a difference in health care," Dr. Perman remarks.

That sentiment was echoed by Sen. Thomas Middleton (D-Charles County) who briefed the delegation on important health care legislation. As Maryland implements the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, dentists will play vital roles improving health care delivery, says Sen. Middleton. He lauded the students for helping the state prepare to meet future oral health care needs. "You are driven and dedicated to the delivery of dental services to our population, and I thank you for that," says Sen. Middleton.

After the briefing, students and faculty members met one-on-one with legislators to explain the valuable contributions the school makes in the local community. Emily Meyer, DDS '16, spoke with Del. Galen Clagett (D-Frederick County) about access to care in Frederick County. "I was interested to learn how dental needs are so different in many communities. Del. Clagett talked about western Maryland, where many people do not have the opportunity to see a dentist on a regular basis. It reminds me of the responsibility we all have as dental care providers," Meyer states.

Matthew Goodrich, DDS '15, emphasized the need for additional scholarship support and loan forgiveness in his meeting with Del. William Frank (R-Baltimore County). The average dental student at UMSOD graduates with more than $146,000 of debt. The need for higher education funding was also a discussion topic for Sarah Uehara, DDS '16, who met with Del. Aruna Miller (D-Montgomery County). "Del. Miller enjoyed learning about what makes the School of Dentistry unique. It was beneficial for the delegate to see how important UMSOD is in the community," states Uehara.

The UMSOD delegation also attended a General Assembly session, where they were recognized from the floor by Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell (D-Baltimore City). After the session ended, the group received a debriefing from Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George's County).

As the busy Advocacy Day drew to a close, Shaina Holman, DDS-PhD '15, reflects on the powerful impact students had on their representatives. "It was important for us to discuss the issues that are currently relevant to dentistry, and to bring those issues to the front of our legislators' minds," states Holman.

Click the yellow "play" button below to see a photo slideshow from UMSOD Advocacy Day.

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