ASDA Advocacy - National Lobby Day and Beacon Hill Lobby Day - Tuft’s ASDA Legislative Liaisons Devon Ptak, Mohil Parakhiya, and Mythilee Kugathasan
ASDA launches grassroot initiatives to support dental students and the profession and works to establish a legacy of action-oriented advocacy on behalf of their members' patients and the practice of dentistry. This includes lobbying at the state and national level on behalf of the dental profession.
This year as Tufts’ ASDA Legislative liaisons, we attended two main lobbying events. The first event was Lobby Day in Washington DC, where nearly 1,000 dental students participated alongside ADA dentists to lobby for national issues in dentistry. This was the largest event in ASDA history. The second event was Beacon Hill Lobby Day, an event specific to lobbying on issues affecting Massachusetts dentistry. Over 250 Massachusetts dentists and dental students attended this event to lobby for the dental profession.
At both of these events, we were able to sit down with senators, state representatives, or their chiefs-of-staff to explain which bills we would like to see passed and how these bills would personally impact each of us. We were able to use our voice to link our peers at TUSDM to both organized dental associations and national government representatives. Summaries of some of the most important bills we discussed are listed below:
Examples of Bills discussed at Washington DC Lobby Day:
H.R. 372 Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017
H.R. 1614 Student Loan Programs under the Higher Education Act
● Lower the interest rates on federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans as well as the total amount of interest that can add onto on federal graduate student loans.
● Reinstate eligibility for graduate and professional degree students to use federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans to finance their graduate education.
● Permit federal graduate student loans to be refinanced more than once to take advantage of lower interest rates and better economic conditions.
Examples of Bills discussed at Beacon Hill Lobby Day:
H. 2197 An Act Relative to Dental Service Corporations
Overall, as legislative liaisons, we were able to both learn more about advocacy and educate our ASDA chapter on current legislative issues. It showed us the impact of what advocacy and lobbying can have on our future as dentists, and we plan to utilize what we have learned for years to come.
Visit ASDA’s Engage website or contact one of your legislative liaisons right at your own chapter to find out more about the issues affecting dentistry today or how to get involved!
Tuft’s ASDA Legislative Liaisons
Devon Ptak, Mohil Parakhiya, and Mythilee Kugathasan
Name: Rob Morrin
Class year: 2020
Hometown: Berlin, CT
What was the last book you read? The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are
Divided by Religion and Politics by Jonathon Haidt. When school isn’t in session,
there’s nothing I would rather be doing than reading. I have dozens of books lined up for
when I’ve finally paid off my loans and have time to read.
Where do you think you'd like to have a practice (if that's what you want)? If
I were to stay in Connecticut, I would want to live and practice in Litchfield County. If I
ever leave, I would love to practice in Vermont.
What's your favorite food? Salmon. I could eat it every day for the rest of my life
and never tire of it.
What's your favorite ASDA event you've attended? Seeing as I just got involved
recently and have not had any leadership events, I would have to say that our lunch and
learns have been my favorite events. I particularly enjoyed the informative session on
refinancing student loans. Looking forward to experiencing more events! <---this was filled out in early 2017, but Rob has since attended other ASDA events, such as the ASDA Summer Social!
What's your favorite word? This is a tough question. I don’t really have a favorite
word, but I have a least favorite word; complacency.
School and class year: Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2019
Hometown: Lake Orion, MI
What was the last book you've read? "How Doctors Think" by Jerome Groopman M.D.
What is your favorite food? Sushi and Seafood
What is your favorite hobby? Ice Hockey
Where do you think you would want to have a dental practice? I would love to get away from the cold and practice somewhere down south, perhaps Charleston, S.C.
What is your favorite ASDA event you've attended: ASDA Annual Session 2017
What is a fun fact about you: A fun fact about me is I actually enjoyed removable prosthodontics during 2nd year, shh don't tell anyone ;-)
Name: Evanthia Vranas
Class Year: D20
Hometown: Naperville, IL
Last Book: A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
Future Dental Practice: Hopefully back in the Midwest, Chicago
Favorite Food: Apples
Favorite ASDA Event: Annual Session this year in Orlando
Favorite Word: Strong
Name: Nicholas Pray
Class year: UConn 2020 (rising D2)
Hometown: Northampton, MA
What was the last book you read? Kind of embarrassing, but it was "Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps" by Kelly Williams Brown. It basically taught me how to be a semi-functioning being.
Where do you think you'd like to have a practice (if that's what you want)? I am looking to either practice in Maine or the Boston area. I went to college in Maine and fell in love with the state, but most of my family lives in Boston. Only time will tell!
What's your favorite food? I am obsessed with the incredibly basic chicken tikka masala.
What's your favorite ASDA event you've attended? I am very new to ASDA, so I would have to say UConn's ASDA lunch and learns. Who doesn't like free lunch, talks concerning dentistry, and good vibes? Looking forward to participating in more events!
What's your favorite word? It would have to be the word "snazzy", which technically means stylish. I try to work it into my day to day conversations- even when the word doesn't make sense in context. People tend to not notice (I hope).
School and class year: Boston University, DMD 2019
Hometown: Westford, MA
What was the last book you’ve read? The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney. Amazing mystery/thriller book that's about to be made into a movie!!
What is your favorite food? Fettuccine Alfredo
What is your favorite hobby? Eating all of the foods.
Where do you think you would want to have a dental practice? Somewhere near a body of water and sunshine. Being able to step out of the office into a nice sea breeze seems ideal.
What is your favorite ASDA event you’ve attended? Annual Session 2017! Seeing all of the local ASDA chapters come together via representatives for something even bigger than themselves was incredible.
What is a fun fact about you? I really like learning new languages; I am currently attempting to learn Punjabi!
Anything else you want to add: If you like friendship, ASDA or food, we'll probably get along really really well :)
The ASDA District 1 Annual Summer Conference/Social is coming again at the Jiminy Peak Resort on August 25th to 27th! This event happens only once a year and all ASDA members are welcome - seize the chance!
ASDA District 1 unites BU, Harvard, UConn, UNE, and Tufts dental schools on the organized dentistry front, helping fight for the best interests of dental students. It also provides resources and networking opportunities for all of us. This weekend-long summer conference/social will be a great opportunity for you to network with different schools/vendors and get involved in ASDA to see what ASDA can do for you. It’s also a great opportunity to see what you can do for ASDA! Here you’ll learn about ways for you to prep for life after dental school, all while having fun at Jiminy Peak resort!
I attended the ASDA District 1 Summer Conference/Social last year, and it was a tremendous amount of fun! Jiminy Peak Resort is located in the Taconic Mountains in Hancock, MA, and it’s a nice getaway for us to embrace nature and step away from our stress. All five chapters participated in the rope course challenge last year. We had safety belays, chains and straps wrapped around ourselves as we moved along the high and low elements in the mountains. The challenging rope course pushed me to conquer my fear and step outside of my comfort zone while being surrounded with support. With the ropes courses, you don’t need to have prior experience nor to be fearless of heights. The rope course’s challenges go beyond climbing through highs and lows with some occasional screaming - it also fosters personal development and team-building trust with your colleagues.
Besides the outdoor fun, last year there were sponsored speakers from financial groups that informed us about ways to budget smart and how to plan for managing student loan debt. ASDA District 1 cabinet leaders presented a talk on leadership development and about how to get involved in ASDA at all three levels—local, district, and national. Sponsored dental service organizations (DSOs) came to talk about career planning for life after dental school, including applying for residency programs and working in the real world. The day wrapped up with a BBQ buffet, campfire, and laughter among the five chapters.
This year’s District 1 Summer Conference/Social has even more to offer! The opportunity for you to network among the five schools still holds true, and there will be more speakers and presentations on topics including ASDA, leadership development, career planning, mentorship, and various vendors. In other words, you’ll hear about everything that is essential to prep you for life after dental school and how you can make a difference in advocating for our profession through ASDA. Besides the rope course, there will be a BBQ and campfire like last year, but there has also been a menu of fun activities added including hiking, group painting, breakout sessions, trivia night, and socials events.
“ASDA is a national student-run organization that protects and advances the rights, interests and welfare of dental students.”
ASDA connects dental students across the nation, and ASDA is an important junior extension of organized dentistry from the ADA. ASDA has a similar tripod system to the ADA that keeps the organization structured for effective progress through national, state/district, and local/chapter levels. Without the birth of organized dentistry back in 1859 (for the ADA) and 1969 (for ASDA), dentistry and dental school education would not be where it is today. Because of the efforts and the structure of organized dentistry, dentistry has been constantly evolving for the better.
Organized dentistry helps us face many current issues including mid-level providers, student loan debt, licensure reform, etc. Today, dentistry is voted to be the no. 1 profession according to U.S. News & World Reports. This high ranking is a credit to the strong foundation and constant improvement led by organized dentistry. Your voice and involvement have an impact in protecting our profession and advancing oral healthcare for our patients. This is done through the platform built by organized dentistry. You can be a part of ASDA now and then a part of the ADA later.
I have been an ASDA member since I was a predental and today I am a 4th year dental student. I cannot imagine my journey without my involvement with ASDA. ASDA bridges the gap between what we learn in school and what we don’t know about the real-world dentistry to prep us for better future. ASDA shapes you to become a leader and a better clinician for our communities. Join ASDA District 1 Summer Conference/Social to start your ASDA journey or to continue your ASDA fever! Mark your calendar for August 25th to 27th now and register by this Friday July 28th to secure your spot!
From America’s oldest ballpark to New England’s famous Clam Chowder, Boston is known for being one of the most historical and populous cities in the United States. When I came to Boston for dental school, I knew I had to experience all that Boston had to offer, especially the food! Below are some of my favorite places to eat when I am not in the Patient Treatment Center or studying in the library.
Boston Burger Company
Location: 1100 Boylston Street
What to Get: 4/20 Burger
What it’s made of: mozzarella sticks, fried mac & cheese, onion rings, fries, bacon, golden BBQ sauce, American cheese
Boston Burger Company is known for its wildly topped burgers and to-die-for milkshakes. All their sauces are made from scratch and their menu is perfect for students on a low budget. I have come here numerous times with classmates after exams, labs, and to relax during study breaks. My favorite burger is the 4/20 burger, which literally has anything you could ever imagine on top. Another good choice is the Mac Attack Burger with fried mac and cheese (featured on Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives), and the Artery Clogger. If there is one thing you need to get while here, it is their well-known Frappes. My favorite is the Oreo Frappe, but the S’more Than You Can Handle is next on my list!
Location: 472 Shawmut Avenue
What to Get: Chimichanga
What it’s made of: Mexican-style flour wrap stuffed with a choice of shredded beef, charcoal grilled steak, marinated pork, or chicken, then pan fried and immersed in salsa Narciso Romero
Appetizer: Chips Y Salsa
El Centro is located right near BU Dental and is one of my favorite spots to eat in between classes. The restaurant itself is warm and intimate, packed full of handmade decorations. My favorite meal is the charcoal grilled steak chimichanga. A night out at El Centro wouldn’t be complete without enjoying their delicious chips, salsa, and guacamole as an appetizer.
Location: 492 Tremont Street
What to Get: Every single doughnut and make it an ice cream sandwich
Nothing says “treat yo’ self” like Blackbird donuts. Not only can you get a regular doughnut, but they can even cut your doughnut in half and make it into an ice cream sandwich, even with sprinkles! Some of my favorite doughnuts include vanilla glazed, cookies & cream, triple chocolate, and chocolate old fashioned.
Location: 1595 Washington Street
What to Get: Any Sandwich
Dessert: Sticky Bun
Flour is my home away from home, and has literally gotten me through dental school. Their sandwiches are always fresh and large enough to even save some for later. My favorite lunch special is definitely the smoked turkey, but the roasted lamb comes in a quick second. Sometimes for breakfast, I will stop by and get French toast. Although their food is great, the real treasure of Flour is their sticky buns. Made of sticky caramel and toasted pecans, I am positive it is one of the best desserts I have ever tasted.
Trump's Proposed Budget - What Does It Mean for Dental Students? - by Nicholas Pray and Evan Woodford (UConn '20 and '19, respectively)
The news today is frequently dominated by details of the newest healthcare bill – speculation regarding the future for consumers and providers alike. However, keeping up with changing health plans is not the only important challenge facing us as future dentists. The recent budget proposal outlined by President Trump, released in May, presents some significant changes to the student loan repayment programs. This will impact students’ ability not only to pursue a dental career, but also the ability to go into a specialty, enter public service or set up a practice. The budget proposal includes three main points regarding student loans:
First, let’s focus on the changes to income driven repayment (IDR) plans. These plans set the monthly repayment amount at a percentage of the borrower’s discretionary income. This amount is calculated based on the difference between your income and either 100% or 150% of the federal poverty guideline, depending on the type of plan you choose. In other words, with these programs, you only have to make student loan payments in the amount of 10-15% of your discretionary income. Students make payments for a predetermined amount of time, 20 or 25 years depending on the program, after which point the remaining balance of the loan is forgiven. One key point is that any forgiven amount is added to your income in whichever year it’s forgiven and becomes taxable. While there are currently five different kinds of IDR plans, the budget proposal argues that having multiple plans “overly complicate[s] choosing and enrolling in the right plan.” The budget proposes reducing the loan repayment plan choices to a single plan with payments of 12.5% of discretionary income (a 25% increase from the current plans). The new plan for undergraduate borrowers would result in their student loan debt being forgiven after 10 years of qualifying payments instead of the current 15. However, graduate students will need to continue to make payments for 30 years, an increase from the current 20 or 25. This is advantageous to undergraduate borrowers and deleterious to graduate students.
There are several significant budget cuts that will affect dental students, including the elimination of subsidized loans. ASDA and the ADA have advocated for the expansion of subsidized student loans to include graduate student borrowers. With a subsidized loan, any accrued interest while the borrower is in school is paid by the government. While not currently available for dental school borrowers, ASDA has asked that these government subsidies be reinstated. Instead, the proposed budget seeks to eliminate subsidized loans entirely (even for undergraduates).
The final and perhaps most controversial point is the elimination of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. This is a program that was created by President Bush in 2007 to encourage graduates to enter public service, despite large amounts of student debt. If a participant works at a qualifying location (e.g. rural or urban health care clinics, government, etc.) for 10 years while making the minimum payments on the loans, the remaining balance at the end of 10 years is forgiven. Unlike an IDR plan, this forgiven amount is tax-free.
This fall season would be the first opportunity for some of the program’s 400,000 participants to see the benefits. This program has allowed many medical professionals, including dentists, to work in underserved clinics by helping cut out a significant chunk of their student debt. However, opponents have argued that the PSLF encourages excessive borrowing and that it disproportionately rewards those who attend higher-cost institutions, which are traditionally attended more frequently by students from high-income families. President Trump’s proposal itself states “these reforms will… focus assistance on needy undergraduate student borrowers instead of high-income, high-balance graduate borrowers.” The ADA and ASDA have also advocated for the PSLF, including the program’s expansion as one of their main points in their March 24, 2017 coalition letter. These requests have been rebuffed in the current proposal.
Although the budget proposal has been submitted, it still has a long way to go before it is approved, presenting many opportunities for change to occur. Currently, the bill has been submitted and is under review by Congress. On July 15th, Congress will present a revised bill to President Trump, who then has an opportunity to make a second round of edits. In September, the conference committee will meet in order to resolve differences that may exist between Congress and the President, resulting in the presentation of a final copy of the bill to President Trump. The President can veto or sign the bill, in which case, if signed, it will be enacted on October 1st, the start of the new fiscal year.
If you would like to get involved by sharing your thoughts on the budget proposal, we urge you to contact your congressional representative. ASDA Engage provides a quick method to lookup your elected officials or follow other important federal and state legislation. Visit ASDAnet.org/Engage today to get involved.
 Office of Management and Budget, Budget of the US Government: A New Foundation of American Greatness, Fiscal Year 2018, 13 May 2017.
 CNN Wire Service, “What is (and isn’t) in the budget for student borrowers.” Cable News Network, Inc, 26 May 2017
 American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Student Dental Association, “Coalition letter urging the house Committee on Education and the Workforce to address several key issues in legislation to reauthorize the student loan provisions in the Higher Education Act of 1965.” 24 March 2017.
 Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Federal Student Aid, US Department of Education
 Mayotte, Betsy, “Trump Budget Proposals: Potential Impact for Student Borrowers.” US News, 24 May 2017.
 Akers, Beth. “It’s time to axe the student loan forgiveness for public service.” The Hill, 22 June 2017
 Office of Management and Budget, Budget of the US Government: A New Foundation of American Greatness, Fiscal Year 2018, 13 May 2017.
 American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Student Dental Association, “Coalition letter” 24 March 2017.
Name: Airy Choi
Class Year: 2020
Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana
What was the last book you read: Kafka On The Shore By Haruki Murakami
Where you think you might like to have a dental practice/future plans: Ideally, I would love to have my practice here in Boston, but it all depends on where my fiancé gets his career established. I also would like to open my own bakery in the distant future in which I will call “Bake-airy”.
Favorite Food: Cheese (By itself or on anything especially on bread or pasta)
Favorite ASDA Event you attended: 2017 Annual Session in Orlando #ASDAmagic
Favorite Word: Cornucopia