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Dental students, ADA benefit from House actions on Student Block Grant Program

San Antonio—By passing two resolutions involving the ADA Student Block Grant Program, the 2008 House of Delegates gave a boost to outreach initiatives that build relationships with dental students and engage them in organized dentistry.

Last month, the House moved to fund student block grants for all constituent societies instead of only those with a dental school—expanding eligibility in the program to 16 more societies in 2009. In addition, starting next year, states that have schools with a student enrollment greater than 500 are eligible for more funding to conduct student outreach activities.

"These are wonderful developments for the Student Block Grant Program," said Dr. Susan Becker Doroshow, chair of the ADA Council on Membership.

"Connecting with students during their dental school years is critical to converting them to membership upon graduation," said Dr. Doroshow. "The block grants not only reinforce the importance and value of these connections to the Association, but provide a significant financial resource for the efforts our constituent societies make on behalf of the entire tripartite."

Resolution 54H-2008 calls for the ADA to extend program eligibility to constituent dental societies that do not have a dental school within their state boundaries. Those societies are now eligible for reimbursement of up to $3,000 per year for the purposes of student outreach and tripartite membership recruitment activities providing that the society adheres to all the Student Block Grant Program criteria.

The 12th Trustee District forwarded Res. 54H to the House of Delegates. The Kansas Dental Association is one constituent society in that district that conducts a significant amount of outreach with students outside the state. Kansas and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry have a long-standing agreement where the dental school accepts 20 students from Kansas per year in their class of 100 total dental students.

For many years now, the KDA has collaborated with University of Missouri-Kansas City and its Kansas dental students to sponsor student attendance at the American Student Dental Association annual meeting, booth sponsorship at the annual UMKC Student Exhibitor Fair, lunch and learn events at the school, a career opportunity fair for students and complimentary student membership and publications.

"The Kansas Dental Association is pleased with the action of the ADA House of Delegates to recognize the student membership recruitment efforts of Kansas and other states without a dental school," said Dr. Robert V. Herwig, KDA president. "Participation in the ADA Student Block Grant Program will allow the KDA to better meet the unique challenges of recruiting Kansas students who attend dental school out of state."

"Constituents that can identify their students studying out of state, like the Kansas Dental Association, do our Association a tremendous service through their outreach activities," added Dr. Doroshow. "I applaud KDA's past efforts and hope that other constituent societies without dental schools follow their lead, especially now that block grant funds are available. Such outreach is vital to the success of the tripartite."

Under the previous Student Block Grant Program, constituent dental societies with a dental school in their state were eligible for up to $3,000 per dental school for student outreach and recruitment. With House passage of Resolution 42H-2008, that limit is increased to $5,000 for any dental school with a total enrollment greater than 500 students, and $6,000 for enrollments greater than 750.

"Once we commit ADA resources to sharing the cost of student outreach activities, it only makes sense that states with larger dental school enrollments get more financial support," said Dr. Doroshow. "Our constituent societies provide staff time to organize events, and volunteer dentists commit their time to meet students. This resolution begins to address the reality that even modest per-capita cost outreach activities were limited by the one-size-fits-all grants."

Res. 42H-2008 originated with the 2nd Trustee District of New York, home to four dental schools, including the New York University College of Dentistry with its student population of 1,300. NYU is the largest school by a wide margin with 1,295 students enrolled in 2007-08, which is approximately 7 percent of the total dental student population and 600 more students than the next largest school.

"We are pleased with this development," said Sandy DiNoto, director of public relations for the New York State Dental Association. "This shows that the ADA is really committing itself to building relationships with the new dentist population through targeted student activities. New York has a high number of dental students and whether they stay here to practice or not, it's important that they have that introduction to organized dentistry."

NYSDA has worked with ASDA chapters at the dental schools for many years to identify collaborative activities. Included among past initiatives are support for white coat and senior graduate award ceremonies and NYSDA-sponsored courses on résumé writing, legal issues and practice management.

"Students and faculty have many program suggestions, but at the larger schools, we've always been fairly limited as to what we can do," said Ms. DiNoto. "This will give us better representation at the schools and allow us to do more for the students and explore new topics for programs, such as career guidance and dealing with increasing levels of educational debt."

For more information about the ADA Student Block Grant Program, contact the Office of Student Affairs at Ext. 7470. To be eligible for the program, constituent societies must complete the Reimbursement Request Form in its entirety, include original receipts for all expenses and meet the annual deadline. Society staff can find information about the 2008 program online at www.adadentalsociety.org. The 2009 forms and criteria will be posted by the end of this year, and will also be mailed and e-mailed to societies.