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Meet ASDA-ADA Washington office externs

July 31, 2014 Washington — The 2014 American Student Dental Association Washington Health Policy Externship at the American Dental Association "opened my eyes to the importance of advocacy" and introduced the possibility "of simultaneously being a clinician and an advocate" in the respective words of Sara Golkari and Poorna Phaltankar, rising second year students at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.

image of Sara Golkari
Sara Golkari, ASDA-ADA Washington Health Policy Extern 2014, is a rising second year student at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.
My name is Sara Golkari and I am a second year student at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. At the beginning of my externship with the American Dental Association I knew very little about organized dentistry. While I recognized the importance of organized dentistry and the ADA, I did not truly understand the inner workings until I arrived here in Washington, D.C. As an extern working in the American Dental Political Action Committee office, I learned that organized dentistry does not end when you sign up to be an ADA member. It continues on a daily basis at the Washington office where the ADPAC staff, collaborating with ADPAC Board members, advocates for dentistry on Capitol Hill. Not only did I have the opportunity to work with the ADPAC staff but I also had the opportunity to meet the ADPAC Board of Directors and see truly how much work and dedication dentists commit to fight for our profession. During my externship I also had the opportunity to attend events with congressional candidates and members of Congress and to explain to them the importance of the issues facing dental students and dentists. During "meet and greets" with members of Congress, I was able to offer my personal story regarding the debilitating effect of student debt today. Student loan refinancing, student loan interest deductions and Medicaid RAC audits are among the issues that impact the dental profession. My Washington, D.C., externship has opened my eyes to the importance of advocacy and organized dentistry to the future of my profession.

image of Poorna Phaltankar
Poorna Phaltankar, ASDA-ADA Washington Health Policy Extern 2014, is a rising second year student at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.
My name is Poorna Phaltankar. I am a rising second year student at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and I am one of the 2014 ASDA externs. The Washington Health Policy Externship at the American Dental Association has given me a glimpse into political advocacy for the profession. I applied for this externship due to my interest in health policy and politics but have come away with valuable insight into the political landscape of Washington, D.C., as well as the importance of simultaneously being a clinician and an advocate. Working specifically with the American Dental Political Action Committee (the PAC of the American Dental Association) gave me the opportunity to meet practicing dentists who are involved politically as well as politicians themselves. The dentists I met encouraged me to continue being an advocate, as a student and after, and the politicians were thoroughly interested in hearing my thoughts on legislation impacting the profession, from student debt issues to concerns about providers in underserved areas. From my time at the ADA, I have learned the importance of looking past the drill and advocating for my future career and colleagues. I hope to bring this knowledge and experience back to my local ASDA chapter at Tufts to educate other students on the importance of being advocates from the beginning of their careers.