CHICAGO--The Academy of General Dentistry's second annual advocacy conference, A Great Dentist Goes to Washington, was recently held in Washington, D.C.
Approximately 60 AGD constituent leaders and member general dentists from 30 states learned how to get Congress to listen.They later applied these sophisticated skills to more than 100 congressional offices on Capitol Hill to convey the interests and concerns of general dentists.
"This year's advocacy conference, once again, proved to be a major success as AGD leaders and members rallied together to express the issues that affect general dentists to the men and women in Congress," said AGD President Vincent Mayher, DMD, MAGD.
The two-day Washington event began with a day-long advocacy training session. Jim Saturno, of the Congressional Research Service, delved into the intricacies of effectively interacting with Congress during a session, "Congress 101."
An interactive session, "Decision Makers: Do They Listen?" was a highlight as attendees explored scenarios designed to develop and enhance lobbying skills at the constituent level. Training continued for attendees with sessions such as, "Taking it to the Hill," "Putting It Into Practice," and "The Game Plan Explained in Detail."
"The AGD advocacy conference was well organized and really helped to prepare us for the visits to Capitol Hill," said Lynnette Smith, DDS, FAGD. "I am thankful to the AGD for providing the 2008 advocacy training and an opportunity to use these skills to benefit our patients."
Deamonte's Law (HR 2371), Children's Dental Health Improvement Act,
(S 739/HR 1781) and Meth Mouth Bills (S 1906/HR 3186) were three issues known as "asks," that AGD leaders and members lobbied for during their visits with legislators on the Hill.
Within 24 hours of their meetings, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Dennis Moore (D-KS) became co-sponsors of the Children's Dental Health Improvement Act.
The morning of the visits, attendees gathered to watch Dr. Mayher present Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID-2), a dentist himself, with the AGD's Legislator of the Year Award. The AGD also honored Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7) and Rick Larsen (D-WA-2) with appreciation awards for their support for oral health initiatives.
"The entire session was extremely informative about issues facing the dental profession, especially the practicing general dentist," said Iowa AGD Legislative Chair, Stephen Thies, DDS. "I strongly believe that it is our responsibility to speak on dental issues to the legislative groups involved. I am glad to lobby either nationally or locally on behalf of the AGD on any issues affecting general dentistry."
For more information about the AGD, visit Academy of General Dentistry.