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Students and New Dentists Learn Real World Experiences at Access to Care and Capitol Conferences

Dental school doesn’t always touch on current issues the dental profession is facing, such as how access to care affects patients.

Attending two ISDS conferences in April last year was impactful for Shoshana Center in this way as she moved forward in her career. “The conference gave us really great exposure to the challenges that clinicians face with the Medicaid system, as well as the current issues with access to care that certain communities face throughout the country,” says Shoshana, who graduated from Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine. “It was very interesting to hear because in school, we don’t get feedback about how Medicaid plays into dentistry in the real world, so we got to see raw feedback on the matter.”

The Access to Care Conference will take place on May 2 this year. Attendees receive four hours of continuing education as they learn about various healthcare issues, public oral health, legislative updates. Last year, attendees also learned about the ISDS Foundation’s Dentists Support Program that helps dentists experiencing problems with alcohol or substance abuse.

The Capital Conference follows the next day. This event focuses on regulatory and political issues affecting dentistry today and how dentists can influence legislative decisions; it also allowed participants to meet with elected officials to advocate for the dental profession.

“It was an eye-opening experience,” says Zachary Parks, also a 2022 SIU dental school graduate. “It was great to see so many dental professionals dedicated to providing care for a population that greatly needs it. I enjoyed hearing from the different speakers on what they have been doing to attack the issue of access to care in their states for both pediatric and adult populations.”

Zachary was in dental school on a Naval Scholarship and is serving as a naval dentist at the Parris Island Marine Recruiting Depot in South Carolina currently. He said he found the ISDS student membership “very valuable” while he was in school.

“It provided us with endless resources and people to talk to that are involved in the dental field. ISDS can provide CE classes, mentors and generalized knowledge of what is currently happening in our state in the dental field,” Zachary says.

Shoshana has moved back to Chicago to work. She enjoyed being involved with ISDS because it gave her the opportunity to integrate with “real-world dentistry” and connect with other colleagues on the same career path.

“In making these connections, students get to learn about the challenges, advancements, developments, financial planning, and business aspects of dentistry and how to achieve future goals as a dentist and a member of society,” Shoshana says.

Both Shoshana and Zachary encourage both students and new dentists to seize opportunities like attending ISDS conferences while furthering their education. It elevated their awareness that providing patient care can be much more complex than checking a tooth.

“The conferences as a whole helped me to see that we need to come up with solutions to provide care to a larger population,” Zachary says.

--story by ISDS contractual writer, Courtney Westlake