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Students participate in Dental Lobby
Last month, a group of 30 MUSC dental students traded in their dental
scrubs, textbooks and dental instruments for business attire, notebooks
and portfolios as they boarded a Columbia-bound charter bus on a cool,
spring morning. This small College of Dental Medicine contingent was on
a daylong journey with the goal of educating and communicating with the
state’s elected leaders about dentistry and statewide issues affecting
The activity was part of MUSC’s first dental student Lobby Day activity
organized by dental students.
College of Dental
Medicine students, along with Dean John Sanders, far right, spent April
16 with elected officials at the South Carolina State House. Their goal
was to introduce dental education, health issues and student loan debt
“It was a great experience for everyone involved,” said Sonia
Karamchandani, a third-year dental student who helped organize the
activity with support from the college. In summer 2006, Karamchandani
completed an American Student Dental Association (ASDA) externship,
which focused on state and government affairs. There, she learned about
advocacy in several dental health and professional topics as well as
outreach activities with peers in their respective states.
Karamchandani, who has participated in previous National Dental Student
Lobby days on Capitol Hill, wanted to organize a local effort with MUSC
“We wanted to coordinate a well-organized effort that demonstrated that
we, as dental students, were going to Columbia for a reason—to be an
informative, communicative experience,” Karamchandani said.
With help from MUSC lobbyists, Karamchandani prepared an itinerary of
the day’s events, plus speaking points prepared on behalf of the dental
school dean and faculty. CDM dean John J. Sanders, DDS, met and viewed
dental school facts and financial information with the students prior
to the visit. Both Sanders and fixed prosthodontics instructor Ted
McGill, DMD, accompanied the students to Columbia. Upon their arrival,
they were introduced to MUSC lobbyists and legislative liaisons Bo
Faulkner, Mark Sweatmann, Lisa McGill; and South Carolina Dental
Association executive director Phil Latham.
“The effort was about building relationships and laying down the
groundwork for the future,” Karamch-andani said. “It was a great chance
to see the legislative process in action and, for our dental students,
to meet and connect with their area representatives and senators.
Students were able to talk about the current dental health challenges
around the state, including patient’s access to care, the rising cost
of a dental education, funding in higher education; plus current needs
within the dental school. They met with Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, S.C.
Reps. Leon Stavrinakis, Tracy R. Edge and Kristopher Crawford, M.D.,
and State Sens. Raymond Clary and Yancey McGill—representatives from
Charleston, Columbia, Florence and Greenville county areas.
Students also presented each senator with a package that included a
PowerPoint presentation relating to MUSC appropriations and the state
budget along with CDM information.
“It’s exciting to see our dental students excited about the political
process and desire to inspire fellow students and other MUSC students
toward advocacy and organized dentistry and medicine. Lobby Day is an
opportunity to initiate communications and dialogue between students
and their legislative representatives. Students came to a greater
appreciation that it is their obligation to inform their elected
representatives about what is important in health care today,” Sanders
The group ended the day with a positive, lasting image. As they looked
across the senate chamber, they could easily spot their MUSC-branded
handouts on the desks of many senators. As a final act, students and
CDM dean’s office sent thank-you notes and group photos acknowledging
their time and support.
“I think we left the day knowing that people in the state House and
Senate heard us. The representatives and senators were open to hearing
what we had to say about the issues relevant to dental students and
seemed willing to aide us in our future endeavors,” said Karamchandani.
student to lead ASDA legislative grassroots effort
Third-year dental student Sonia Karamchandani has been named national
chair of the Legislative Grassroots Network of the American Student
Dental Association (ASDA). In this role, Karamchandani will supervise
and direct the activities of ASDA grassroots political activities and
monitor state and national legislative news that affects dental
students and the dental profession. At times, she may serve as ASDA’s
liaison to the ADA Council on Government Affairs. She will manage the
orientation and planning program of the annual session for incoming
Legislative Grassroots Network members and direct efforts for planning
National Dental Student Lobby Day.
Additionally, Karamchandani is the 2008 recipient of the ASDA Ryan
Turner Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is named after former
dental student and active ASDA leader Ryan Turner, who died
unexpectedly in January 2007. During the ASDA Annual Session in August,
Karamchandani will be presented $500, with another $500 awarded to the
Friday, May 9, 2008
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