I was lucky enough to be in London with family to ring in the New Year. As the New Year drew closer in London, images flashed across the TV of celebrations from Asia to Australia to the Middle East to Africa and to Europe (the Americas still to celebrate). Diverse crowds across the world gathering to bring in 2020. Despite global challenges, people looked toward the new year and the new decade for a chance at new beginnings.
On January 2, 2020, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine saw the return of students, faculty, staff, and patients. A return to classes, clinics, front desks, offices, dispensaries, billing, sterilization, teaching, learning, and caring. It was also a new beginning for the International Student DIS22 class. Thirty-one individuals from 20 different countries began their journey to get a second dental degree in order to become oral health care providers in the United States. On January 24, 2020, faculty, staff, and families gathered to honor these students at the White Coat Ceremony. Each student officially joined the “Tufts family,” as Drs. Perry and Ramesh helped the students put on their new white coats. Under Dr. Perry’s leadership, this class will join our regular DMDs in their preclinical classes before seeing patients this summer.
The Staff Advisory Council also welcomed new leadership: Nicole Wilkinson and Therese Kohlman. Nicole and Therese are enthusiastic about their new roles as chairs. I know they are invested in elevating faculty/staff relationships to a new height. When I met with them this month, they spoke about a staff development series for clinical and administrative staff. I will also meet with staff on a monthly basis as a part of a new meet and greet program called “A Dozen Donuts with the Dean.” I look forward to getting to know our incredible staff in these smaller groups. The Faculty Advisory Council also welcomed two new members. Dr. Rocio Saavedra from the Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Dr. Xu Qian from the Department of Orthodontics started their tenure January 1 2020. Drs. Galburt and Kaminsky were also re-elected. The Council now has representatives from all nine TUSDM departments.
A new year always signifies a new beginning in the form of new year’s resolutions. Resolutions to exercise more regularly, eat healthier, lose weight, be mindful and less stressed, save more, travel, and the list could go on. I certainly noticed that the yoga studio I visit had absolutely no extra “mat” space this last month! As a part of being “healthier,” the Tufts University Dental Alumni Association (TUDAA) put together a fundraiser, “Spin with the Dean,” at CycleBar in Wellesley to benefit the Tufts Dental Alumni Student Loan Fund. After a vigorous 45-minute spin class, it was nice to mingle with local alumni and sponsors who support our school and students in meaningful ways. A special thanks to Joy Kasparian Federico (D97, DG99) supported by Ancy Verdier (D03, DG06) Bridget Kent and the TUDAA board.
It was a new beginning for Associate Dean Hanlon (D97) at a ceremony at a Massachusetts Dental Society Meeting just prior to the Yankee Dental Conference where she gave her acceptance speech for assuming the president’s position on 7/1/20. Janis Moriarty (D94) who is the current president of the MDS also addressed those present.
Approximately 500-600 alumni gathered at our reception at Yankee on 1/30/20. Clusters of alumni gathered according to year of graduation to catch up and share fond memories of years spent at TUSDM. As I met recent graduates I was happy to hear how well prepared they feel-whether they are in residencies or out in private practice. Students and faculty were also recognized at many events at the Conference. I attended for example the American College of Dentists lunch where Yannis Koroneos (D20) and Dr. Daniel Green were recognized. You could not help but see how many participants and presenters had links to TUSDM. TUSDM was also well represented at the ASDA debate. I saw Arjun Gupta (D21) and Sho Taniguchi (D21) huddling with Airy Choi (D20) right before they hit the big stage. Airy had her smart phone “stop watch” in hand to make sure our debaters stayed within the allotted time!.
Many members of our D20 Class learned about their “new beginnings” at our annual Match Day celebration on January 22, 2020 (This was the date of the second phase of Match, the first being held on November 22, 2019). Not all advanced education programs participate in the Match so it is hard to gauge all of our placements. Excited students talked about relocating to new cities, to new institutions to begin the next phase of their training. Our record to place students in highly competitive programs says a lot about the quality of our students, their motivation and the quality of our education. I hear from many program directors across the country that our students are great ambassadors for TUSDM-both in terms of their technical skills but more importantly in their ability to care and communicate.
I know for some students there was the disappointment of not matching but there are always post-Match positions available. Nationwide there are so many qualified students for relatively few residency slots. For example, in 2018–2019, there were 6,521 applications for 771 slots for AEGD programs, for GPR there were 11,536 applications for 1,112 slots, for OMFS there were 11,441 applications for 260 slots, and for orthodontics there were 9,825 applications for 392 slots, etc. The applications represent total number of applications (i.e. students apply to multiple programs). You can access the full report here (https://www.ada.org/en/science-research/health-policy-institute/data-center/dental-education). Many of our graduates who don’t match complete a one year “enrichment” experience and reapply successfully in subsequent years. At this year’s match, 12 students who had graduated previously matched into programs. A special thanks to Mary-Ellen Marks in Academic Affairs. This past application cycle she advised and helped craft Dean’s letters for 125 current students and 39 Deans letters for recent (and not so recent) graduates.
On another note, January 20 marked the celebration of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. The day not only honors MLK and his legacy but has come to signify a day of service. Many citizens volunteer their time to make a difference on this day. I am reminded of the incredible service TUSDM provides our patients and our communities.
As we start this new year and this new decade, I thank all our “people”–faculty, staff, and alumni for all they do to train the next generation of Tufts Dental Medicine oral health care providers. Many of the events described here are supported by staff from Student Affairs, Clinical Affairs, Academic Affairs and our team in Development and Alumni Affairs. I also thank our students for providing care to our patients, ensuring that they have better oral health and better overall health.