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Illinois dental students get glimpse into the future

More than 70 students from the dental schools at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Southern Illinois University traveled to ADA Headquarters Oct. 3-4 for the 6th annual Field Trip to the Future.

The event provides senior dental students an opportunity to attend Success Dental Student Programs in Chicago, tour the ADA building and interact with officials from the ADA and Illinois State Dental Society.

The ADA's Success Dental Student Programs offer educational programs to dental schools on topics like financial issues, succeeding in dental school, patient care, technology, résumé writing, employment opportunities, ethics in dental practice and more. This year's Field Trip to the Future included programs on practice management and risk management, along with a social event that brought students together with ADA officers and staff, ISDS trustees, ISDS membership and new dentist committee members, and Illinois component officers.

The Illinois State Dental Society has hosted Field Trip to the Future since 2003 with funding from the ADA Student Block Grant Program (ADA News Today Nov. 17, Dental students, ADA benefit from House actions on Student Block Grant Program).

"We have had a remarkable increase in new dentist members since 2001, and programs like Field Trip to the Future are one of the contributing factors," said Dr. Joseph Unger, ISDS president. First-year membership in ISDS has increased by 170 percent since 2001. Currently all dentists practicing in Illinois from the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine's Class of 2007 are active ISDS members.

With positive feedback from the students, ISDS plans to continue the program. Past student evaluations on Field Trip to the Future have included: "The ADA made me feel like a professional health care provider, not like a dental student," "the Illinois State Dental Society really went above and beyond for this seminar weekend," and "I learned a lot about associateships and practice management; these are topics not covered in school so I'm glad that the ADA presented them to us along with ISDS."

Additional sponsors of the event included the ADA, Chicago Dental Society, ISDS Foundation, Alliance of the ISDS, TDIC, Illinois AGD, Peoria District Dental Society, Xi Psi Phi International Dental Fraternity, the Illinois Section of the American College of Dentists and Illinois member dentists.