Incredible. That word sums up my experience in Washington D.C. at National Lobby Day. For those of you who know me well, this has been something I’ve wanted to do since D1 year. I’ve attended State Oral Health Day at the capitol many times to discuss current issues and legislation with our state representatives. But the opportunity to speak with our state congressman was something that has intrigued me for the past 3 years. Finally, I was able to be part of this incredible conference and lobby effort.
One of the main highlights this year was that for the first time, dental students and doctors teamed up and had their lobby day together in D.C. I got to know many doctors from Arizona and outside of Arizona who were in attendance. The networking I could do will be very beneficial in the years to come. I’m surprised at how many opportunities present themselves when you spend time with other doctors at these events. It was also a good learning experience to watch how these doctors discuss issues with the congressmen. They’ve done it before and know how best to present issues in a way that’s optimistic and beneficial. It was an inspiring sight to see so many doctors interested in the lives of dental students. They lobbied incredibly well for our issues. I loved seeing doctors engaged in conversations about student loan refinancing and tuition costs. They are just as concerned about it as we are and that’s something that should bring optimism to all of us. We are not alone in trying to work through these issues.
Washington D.C. was amazing! Although we had little time to explore, we were able to see many of the historical buildings, monuments and landmarks. If you’ve never been there, put it on your bucket list, now. All American citizens should visit this place and learn more about all of the effort being placed into making America a better place to live. Although politics can get exhausting and sometimes frustrating, there are so many positive things happening at the capitol.
I’ve been to a few conferences while being a part of ASDA, and this is by far the best conference I’ve attended. I couldn’t imagine anything more instructive to a dental student than to represent their profession and actively participating in the legislative process that defines our country and our profession.
The second day at NLD started off with an early morning breakfast and awards ceremony at 7:30 am. Our very own Andy “Jayhawk” Larkin won the Legislative Liaison of the Year!!!! So in other words, think of all the ASDA chapters in the country. Then think that every one of those chapters has a Legislative Liaison. Then think, Andy was recognized as the best! Congratulations Andy! The ASDOH ASDA chapter has a lot to live up to next year as far as legislative issues are concerned due to the job Andy did. Hopefully our chapter will continue to be well recognized as a national power when it comes to legislative issues.
After the awards ceremony, we all grabbed a bus down to the capitol. Our first meeting was with Congressman Raul Grijálva; his district is over by Tucson, Arizona. Following that, we went on a mini tour of the Library of Congress & Capitol Building. We really wanted to go watch either the House or the Senate in session but couldn’t grab our gallery passes in time from our state representatives. Next was Senator John McCain’s office. One of the doctors pulled some magic and got us a meeting with the Senator. Unfortunately last minute, he had to go to an urgent meeting. I think it was about Russia. Russia is obviously a hot button right now in Washington. So we met with his aide. We then had the opportunity to meet in person with Representative Andy Biggs from Mesa who was gracious enough to meet with us in person. We had a great conversation about student loan debt and how to make school more affordable. I’m not sure if he’ll take up the issue on his own but at least the conversation has been started about how much tuition we pay!
Day 2.0 was an eventful day that really made it all worth it. For me, I’m learning how much I love doing this, but I didn’t know until I tried it. I want to encourage everyone, I mean everyone, to get more involved in the legislative issues affecting our profession.
Needless to say National Lobby Day 2017 was a success. We’re already looking forward to National Lobby Day 2018!
Kyle Tuttle, ASDOH ’18