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UNC student wins top prize in Student Ethics Video Contest

2010-11 winners are now on

January 02, 2012

In learning to make treatment decisions, dental students are sometimes caught between performing the care they need to fulfill graduation requirements and doing what’s best for the patient.

Mr. Vo

That dilemma and a student’s thought process as he arrives at an ethical treatment decision are at the heart of this year’s grand prize winning entry in the ADA Student Ethics Video Contest. For writing, directing and producing "The Bridge Patient," Christopher Vo, a senior dental student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, received the $2,000 grand prize award from the ADA Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs, the contest’s sponsor.

CEBJA started the Student Ethics Video Contest in 2008 to raise awareness of the 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. Mr. Vo’s video focuses on the ADA Codes 5A-Representation of Care and 3B-Government of a Profession.

"There can be a tension created when students must meet procedural requirements in order to graduate from dental school," said Dr. Marilyn Lantz, chair of CEBJA. "Dentists’ primary obligations include honoring the trust inherent in the dentist-patient relationship and putting the best interests of patients first. This year’s winning video showed a student having a struggle with those ideas and eventually making a decision that put the best interests of the patient first."

Five students from the Indiana University School of Dentistry—Ewelina Ciula, Ali S. Sajadi, Katherine M. Hungate, Tadziu J. Kula III and Gabrielle M. Johnson—shared the honorable mention prize of $1,000 for their video, "Back to Ethics," which illustrates four of the five ADA Code Principles—Patient Autonomy, Nonmaleficence, Justice and Veracity.

Dr. Lantz

Both videos, as well as the 2010 grand prize and honorable mention videos, are posted on

Observing the number and quality of video entries, Dr. Lantz said the competition has hit its stride. The number of entries hit an all-time high this year with 17 submissions—up from seven in 2010.

"You have to do these types of programs for a few years before people catch on, and students have responded with so much creativity," said Dr. Lantz. "The contest is a win-win for students and the profession because it’s been a great forum for discussing ethics and professionalism, and students are rewarded for their efforts."

Mr. Vo’s video, which he produced with UNC classmates and faculty members, combined his interest in ethical issues with a passion for video production.

"We’re required to do a bridge before graduation," he explained. "You can crown the teeth on either side of a lost tooth and make a bridge, but doing a bridge puts adjacent teeth at risk. For this particular patient, it’s better to have an implant. A lot of students face that problem."

To make the video, he used three cameras and edited the video using a Mac. "For me, half of it was probably the motivation of putting the story together and thinking about ethical dilemmas, and the other half was to push my abilities in making a movie."

With digital SLR cameras that can shoot in high definition video, Mr. Vo has created several videos—some documenting care performed in dental school, some travel logs, others just for fun.

"You can do a lot with the technology, and it wasn’t too complicated," he said, adding that he took extra care to time shots in order to keep the viewer’s attention.

"I’m glad the ADA hosts the contest," Mr. Vo said. "It’s nice to be able to share these stories about things that happen in dental school. I think that with the advent of technology, we can produce something of quality that addresses ethical dilemmas faced by dental students."