The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we operate in the blink of an eye. In March 2020, ASDA immediately went to work advocating for the many issues students and dentists faced with this unprecedented crisis. Through virtual chapter idea exchanges, town hall updates, a groundbreaking 50-state licensure strategy, letters to members of Congress, regional licensure testing agencies and beyond, ASDA remained unwavering in its support for dental student needs and concerns throughout the pandemic.
What Has ASDA Done?
Between March and December 2020, ASDA signed onto 15 coalition letters urging members of Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to consider various needs of dental students and dentists during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flexibility for student loans and helping to ease the financial strain both large and small dental offices were experiencing were paramount. Specific coalition letter topics included:
Deferring interest on all federal student loans
- Support for 501(c)(6) non-profits
- Additional funding for the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund
- Allocating CARES Act funding to dentists that are Medicaid providers
- Providing flexibility for Paycheck Protection Plan loans to small business health care providers
When dental offices began reopening, additional safety measures including limited in-office staff and increased use of personal protective equipment (PPE) posed additional financial hardships. These issues were some of the driving forces in determining ASDA and the ADA’s agenda for Lobby Day 2021, where nearly 600 dental students and dentists came together to lobby for bills that would continue to help ease the economic stress for dentists.
- H.R. 2079: Eliminating the Provider Relief Fund Tax Penalties Act
: Small Business PPE Tax Credit Act
ASDA Action campaigns allowed members to send letters directly to their members of Congress on these bills and share how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected them as a dental student and future dentist. 259 letters were sent as of May 2021.
COVID-19 and dental licensure
The COVID-19 pandemic prevented many dental students from taking the clinical exams they needed to graduate. Instead of accepting students’ inability to receive their license in the traditional way, ASDA seized the opportunity to push licensure reform and organized dentistry ahead.
ASDA met with the ADA, ADEA and regional resting agencies to encourage the release of non-patient-based licensure exams. Within weeks, all regional testing agencies released manikin-based assessments for the class of 2020.
The ADA also released the Dental Licensure Objective Structured Exam (DLOSCE) a year ahead of schedule in June 2020.
ASDA continues to advocate for non-patient-based alternatives as permanent reform.
View ASDA’s Licensure page for more information.
COVID-19 and student loans
ASDA recognized the direct impact the COVID-19 pandemic would have on students’ debt and federal loans. ASDA members came together and successfully lobbied to defer all monthly payments on federal student loans. Interest accrual on these loans was also deferred.
Throughout the course of the pandemic, the cutoff date for ending these flexibilities has been extended multiple times. The most recent extension allows these flexibilities to remain in place through May 1, 2022.
Visit the federal student aid website for the most up-to-date information.
COVID-19 and vaccinations
ASDA identified the critical role dental students and dental professionals could play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services amended the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) to allow dental students and dentists to administer the COVID-19 vaccine across the country regardless of state laws.
ASDA launched a social media series highlighting members administering the COVID-19 vaccine.
View ASDA’s Vaccinations page for more information.
What ASDA members are saying
- “Dental licensing in 2020: Where are they now? Part 2” ASDA Blog, March 2021
- “How COVID-19 impacted Harvard dental students” ASDA Blog, November 2020
- “The science of PPE” Contour, October 2020
- “Two NY brothers support COVID-19 relief through baseball card auctions” ASDA Blog, July 2020
- “COVID-19 and dentistry” Contour, June/July 2020
- “Maintaining the positive environmental impacts of COVID-19” ASDA Blog, June 2020
- “ASDA’s efforts in response to COVID-19” ASDA Blog, April 2020
- “Here’s how dental students are staying well during the COVID-19 pandemic” ASDA Blog, April 2020
- “The impact of COVID-19 on dental schools” ASDA Blog, April 2020
- “Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic as a D4” ASDA Blog, March 2020