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Dental students reflect on health policy externship

August 24, 2015

Photo of Jamie Lowstetter, Rep. Mike Simpson and Kristianne Macaraeg
Externs: Jamie Lowstetter (L) and Kristianne Macaraeg, ASDA health policy externs, enjoy a photo op with dentist/Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, in his Capitol Hill Office. ‘Our month-long externship was jam-packed with new and exciting learning experiences,’ said the rising 2nd and 3rd year students at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.

Washington — Jamie Lowstetter and Kristianne Macaraeg, 2nd and 3rd year students respectively at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, offer their perspective on the 2015 Washington, D.C. ADPAC Externship sponsored by the American Student Dental Association and hosted by the ADA Washington Office.

”When we first stepped into the ADA Washington D.C. office four weeks ago, we could never have imagined such an incredible experience. Our month long externship was jam-packed with meet-and-greets, roundtables, the ADPAC [American Dental Political Action Committee] Board Meeting, campaign school, team meetings, creating presentations, analyzing data, reading legislation and so much more. Every day brought new and exciting learning experiences. We attended a number of congressional candidate meet-and-greets as well as a number of roundtables with current Representatives. At each of these events, we were able to discuss our issues as dental students, mostly relating to student debt. It was so encouraging that every single candidate and Representative agreed that this issue was of great importance and were so moved by our personal stories. One member of Congress in particular asked to use our names and testimonials on our student debt when he speaks on the House floor!

“We had so many great days and opportunities, but hands down the highlight of our summer was spending the day on the Hill to meet with the three dentist members of Congress: Dr. Mike Simpson, Dr. Paul Gosar and Dr. Brian Babin. We spent a lot of time with each of them in their Congressional offices chatting about their backgrounds, dental stories and individual journeys to Washington. All three of them are really great representatives of not only their districts but of dentists all across the country. And although they differ personally and politically, they each had a common passion and purpose: Working to ensure that we as dental students and the future of dentistry inherit as great a profession as they did 30+ years ago.

“While in the thick of dental school, it is so hard to understand why it’s important to stay informed about what’s going on in D.C. but, as Congressman Gosar told us, ‘Politics affects you whether you pay attention or not.’ Dentistry is such an incredible and unique profession, and it is now our responsibility, as the future of dentistry, to work closely with everyone here at the ADA D.C. office to maintain its integrity. After this externship experience, we are so ready to start working with the ASDA Council on Advocacy, the student member of the ADPAC Board and legislative liaisons across the country to develop programming and increase awareness of the various activities at the D.C. office. We are so thankful to the ASDA Board of Trustees for giving us the opportunity to work in D.C. with the American Dental Association.”

For more information on this externship and other national leadership opportunities for dental students, visit ASDA’s website.