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Meharry American Student Dental Association president-elect takes peers 'beyond the clinics'

Symposium focuses on business exposure, features ADA Success presentations

December 04, 2019

By Mary Beth Versaci

Nashville, Tenn. –– Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry student Taylor Jackson learned how important it is to understand the business side of running a dental practice while working at an endodontist's office between college and dental school.

"I was trained on how to greet patients, understand the protocol when handling insurance and schedule appointments," said Ms. Jackson, 25, who was a front desk assistant at the Nashville, Tennessee, practice. "It was there where I understood that the front desk is just as important as the clinical treatment that's given to the patient."

Although business seminars are included within the curriculum at Meharry, first-year students mostly take basic science courses, she said. In an effort to expand on what was already offered by the dental school, Ms. Jackson developed the idea for a business symposium for all dental classes.
Beyond The Clinics students
Success: From left, Meharry American Student Dental Association President Aierress Hanna, President-elect Taylor Jackson and Vice President Rayna Turner attend the Beyond the Clinics: Meharry ASDA Business Symposium on Oct. 5 at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn. Photo courtesy of Andrew Dermarkarian

In March, she ran for president-elect of the Meharry American Student Dental Association chapter and made the symposium a key part of her platform. She made good on her campaign promise by organizing the Beyond the Clinics: Meharry ASDA Business Symposium in October at the Nashville dental school.

"I believe that if opportunity doesn't knock, then you build the door," said Ms. Jackson, who is now the president-elect of the Meharry ASDA chapter and a second-year dental student.

She worked with Dr. Drake Dudley, a dentist in Nashville who graduated from Meharry, and Tennessee Dental Association Executive Director Mike Dvorak to find speakers for the event.

The symposium included a panel discussion with dental, insurance and financial professionals, as well as presentations by ADA Success, which offers a series of programs on topics most relevant to students to help them prepare for life as a dentist.

"The goal that I had in mind for the business symposium was to introduce dental students to the world of business and how it is incorporated within private practice and organized dentistry," Ms. Jackson said. "By attending lectures on the essentials of health care management, developing financial literacy and understanding the future of dentistry, dental students will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge beyond the clinics."

Ninety-four students attended the symposium, and she hopes to make it an annual event.

"Why not create something and leave a legacy at Meharry that can be a benefit for all dental students?" Ms. Jackson said.