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Recently, we were lucky enough to interview the Australian Dental Students' Association. We discussed the heritage of the association, how they help dental students' throughout their study and much more. 

QUOVO: When was the ADSA established and what was the key reason(s) it was founded?

ADSA: ADSA began as the the National Faculty Association of Dental Students (NFADS), which was established in 1959 to unite dental students from across the country and represent their interests. As far as the current committee is aware, the first Survey of Australian Dental Students was undertaken in 1964 by Barnard et al. to elucidate the characteristics of dental students, reasons for choosing dentistry and plans for practice after graduation. 

The Australian Dental Students’ Convention Committee (ADSCC) was subsequently born to bridge the divide between dental students across Australia and ADSA as we know it developed from its foundations in 2009. The mission of ADSA remains the same as the ADSCC; it’s only through communication, collaboration and “Standing Together” that we will have a coherent national voice. 

QUOVO: How does the ADSA collaborate with other dental associations?

ADSA: ADSA works closely with representatives at each Australian University’s Dental School to facilitate bidirectional communication. Each representative relays their academic concerns to us and our committee liaises with each local society to involve them in each of our initiatives and equip them with the resources to run successful community and educational events and to ensure that students across the country are well-informed about issues that affect our profession and student bodies throughout the country and don’t miss our on our annual Convention! 

We also work very closely with the Australian Dental Association at state and federal levels. The ADA is incredibly supportive of students and we aim to render the transition from student to professional life a smooth one. The ADA team also provides us with lots of oral health promotion resources and support.  

Additionally, we have also recently become a full member of the International Association of Dental Students, which grants us access to lots of resources and gives us the opportunity to attend their global conferences, internships and observerships.   

QUOVO: What are the key philosophies of the ADSA?

ADSA: ADSA aims to: 

a)    Encourage the pursuit of dental science by dental students.

b)    Promote involvement in organised dentistry and dental science education.

c)    Advance the rights, interests and welfare of dental students.

d)    Co-ordinate communication and co-operation amongst dental student associations.

e)    Increase the public standing of dental students within the community.

QUOVO: How does the ADSA benefit dental students?

ADSA: ADSA runs a range of in-person and online events and initiatives in which all dental students are invited to get involved. We run community-based campaigns to promote oral and general health-based initiatives, are many students’ first port of call for information affecting us in our practice of dentistry, coordinate a range of webinars on a plethora of topics through our ADSA Talks initiative. The highlight of the ADSA calendar is always our annual Convention, at which we unite students from across the country for a week of academic lectures, workshops and social events to foster a unique sense of community within the profession at a national scale. 

QUOVO: Does the ADSA assist dentistry students within the field of dental care post-graduation?

ADSA: In 2019, we have started a mentorship programme that links final year students to recent graduates with similar career interests. We hope to grow this programme in future. Additionally, we have links to the Young Dentist Hub and Dental Head Start, which are run by ADSA Alumni who are passionate about supporting young professionals. 

We also have a seat on the ADA’s Recent Graduates Advisory Panel to relay student concerns and ensure that we are up to date with issues affecting young dentists. We also work with the ADA more generally to coordinate pre-graduation events and raise awareness of their resources in the transition from Dental School to the real world to ensure that the transition into working life is a smooth one. 

QUOVO: Are there any essential lessons you have learned from working with future dentists?

ADSA: That the Dental School experience is universally difficult. While every school has its differences and each clinician-to-be will have different career aspirations, we are all going through parallel journeys and it has been invaluable to have a nation-wide network of future colleagues that understand exactly what we face as we navigate that journey. 

QUOVO: Thank you for your time ADSA!

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