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2012 Student Ethics Video Contest winners


Winners' circle: Pictured (from the back right) are Yu Kato, Vince Badali, Ali Mehrabian; (middle row from the right) Agnes Seong, Keren Etzion, Emily Kim, Lauren Jain, Alex Sadak; and (front row from the right) Dr. Allan Kucine, Ivan Lukachynets and Christina Makram. Not in picture: Dmytro Zhurakovskyy, Dr. Jeff Seiver and Dr. Anas Al Najjar.
Stony Brook, N.Y.—They say the third time's the charm, so who knows what fortune may befall the dental students who won the Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs' 2012 Student Ethics Video Contest.

A second-year group of students at the Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine in New York submitted the winning film, "The Unprofessional 2." They didn't win the ADA contest the first time they tried as first-year dental students with their previous entry, "The Unprofessional." 

But that didn't put a crimp in their ambition to try and try again.

"We didn't place, but we had a great time doing it," said Alex Sadak, who originated the first entry with pal, Ali Mehrabian. "We were very motivated to continue, and we applied for it the next year."

"The first movie sparked us to get involved in different things," Mr. Sadak said. "After the dean of admissions saw it, she wanted us to make a video for the admissions department to show incoming students. That was after the first one, 'The Unprofessional 1.' It sparked a lot of excitement in the school."

To make a run for the prize a second time, the students hit the ground running, recruiting additional students, conferring with professors, scouting locations, upgrading equipment and even making sure their team scored its own soundtrack music. They were relentless.

"After we found out that we lost the first contest, in our second year we were taking ethics classes and classes in professionalism," said Mr. Mehrabian. "Every time the professor brought up a specific scenario, we wrote it down if we liked it. We kind of used that as a rough draft of what we wanted to do for the script throughout the year before we filmed."

Joined by three other primary dental student filmmakers—Ivan Lukachynets, Vince Badali and Emily Kim—they hit paydirt with "The Unprofessional 2," for which CEBJA awarded the filmmakers the $2,000 grand prize.

Now in their third year of dental school, they are already looking ahead to filming "The Unprofessional 3." A trilogy on ethics certainly would please dental school brass, said Mr. Sadak.

"Many faculty and staff helped us by letting us use their facilities," he said.
"We're excited to make a sequel to 'The Unprofessional 2.' We had a great time with the second one. I think the school will expect a continuation."

The goal of the contest is to create greater awareness of ethical dilemmas dental students and professionals encounter and provide a forum for dental students to consider how those dilemmas should be addressed using the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct.

"The Unprofessional 2" focuses on ADA Codes and Advisory Opinions 2.G-Personal Relationships, 5.A.1-Dental Amalgam, 3.F-Professional Demeanor, 5.F-Advertising and 5.B.6-Unnecessary Services.

The honorable mention winner is Peter Dinh of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry. For his video "The Spirit of Dentistry," Mr. Dinh received a $1,000 cash prize. His video illustrates three of the five ADA Code Principles: Nonmaleficence, Beneficence and Veracity.

Of the grand prize winning film, Mr. Sadak and Mr. Mehrabian said the levity the film reflects was in better balance with the serious nature of ethics than in their first attempt.

"Even though it's very entertaining and funny, these are serious issues that happen day to day in a dental office," Mr. Mehrabian said. "We don't know from our limited experiences as dental students, but we took what the ADA Code of Ethics had to offer and we worked with it, and we basically got creative with ideas that could happen in a dental setting.  We feel like when people watch something like this and it's very entertaining, it kind of leaves an impact on them.

"It's important for dental students to become aware of these types of situations that can happen because we're going to be in the workforce very soon in the professional field. We believe it's our obligation to be professionals." See winning videos at www.ada.org/4064.aspx.