Over 300 dental students from across the United States descended on Washington, D.C., on March 28 and 29 for the 2011 National Dental Student Lobby Day co-sponsored by the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) and ADEA. The schedule was tightly packed with several informative topics, including a refresher on how exactly Congress works and why understanding advocacy is important within the realm of oral health care.
The main thrust of the day focused on requesting funding in the amounts of $468 million for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) and $35 billion for the National Institute of Health (NIH), an increase of 13% over fiscal year 2010. The discussions were poignant with a potential government shutdown looming in the background. Students heard from Mr. Michael Brzica, a congressional lobbyist from the American Dental Association (ADA), and Mr. Jonathan Nurse from the American Association for Dental Research (AADR).
Over the course of the afternoon, students were provided with talking points on the funding issue, practiced lobbying through role-play examples, and were able to question the Chair of the Virginia Dental Political Action Committee, Dr. Bruce Hutchison. The next day, students went to Capitol Hill for individual appointments with Members of Congress and put their lobbying practice to the test.