One hundred and eighty students arrived in Washington, DC, in between record-setting snowfalls to attend the 11th Annual Dental Student Lobby Day. Jointly sponsored by the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) and the American Student Dental Association (ASDA), the workshop trains student leaders to be effective advocates and future leaders for their profession. Students reviewed how a bill becomes law, and they were briefed on two advocacy issues and taught how to frame their message for legislators.
The first advocacy issue, H.R. 855/S. 616, the Enhancing Safety in Medicine Utilizing Leading Advanced Simulation Technologies to Improve Outcomes Now Act of 2009 (Enhancing SIMULATION Act), would provide grants to schools of dentistry, medicine, podiatry, osteopathy, nursing, and allied health for purchasing simulation technologies. Additionally, it would create medical simulation centers of excellence and establish a federal medical simulation coordinating council.
The second advocacy issue is the Student Loan Interest Deduction (SLID), which was first approved in the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-34), expanded in Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-16), and is now scheduled to expire December 31, 2010. This provision assists student borrowers with reducing student loan burden through an "above-the-line" tax deduction, which allows borrowers to deduct up to $2,500 of interest payments for qualified education expenses annually.
Workshop speakers Michael Graham and Michael Brzica of the American Dental Association (ADA) spoke about the student loan interest deduction and becoming an effective advocate, respectively. ADEA's Myla Moss discussed how a bill becomes a law, and Deborah Darcy briefed the students on H.R. 855/S. 616. Dr. Ruchi Sahota, Chair, ADA Committee on the New Dentist, discussed leadership and advocacy opportunities for new dentists.
The workshop normally culminates in students meeting with their legislators on Capitol Hill and asking for support for the issues on which they were briefed. Unfortunately, due to the snowstorm, the federal government and Congress were closed. However, the students will have other advocacy opportunities later, when they will use the skills they learned in Washington.