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Dental Leaders Take Opportunities in SPDL

February 9, 2012

Saroj Kumar Saha and Lloyd Carr at a SPDL Meeting

As a member of SPDL , I constantly am asked by other dental students what exactly is SPDL? First off, SPDL stands for Scholars Program in Dental Leadership but that probably doesn’t help much either. To be honest, I actually have had a very hard time explaining what SPDL represents. So let us start with the basics, SPDL is a special group of students who are interested in dentistry beyond the tooth and crown margins.  The program is designed to encourage leadership within dentistry.  Leadership can take many forms within SPDL.  For example exploring successful practice management techniques, effecting policy change, participating in dental research, or pursuing academic dentistry have been are consistent themes within SPDL. Leadership is cemented in the profession of dentistry just as much as ceramic crowns are cemented on natural teeth. For example the success of the American Dental Association has represented and protected the interests of dental professionals for years. With the need to encourage leadership efforts within dental students, The University of Michigan School of Dentistry has decided to create a special group of students that participates in leadership training and provides the opportunity to exercise leadership skills.

Students who are interested in SPDL apply for membership and are approved by faculty. Unfortunately not everyone makes the cut. Students who are accepted are required to attend leadership training meetings once every month. Past speakers include Dr. Kenneth Kornman, Dr. Howard Farran from DentalTown, and even former Michigan head football coach, Lloyd Carr. These meetings are typically after school and last less than 2 hours. Each student is also required to construct a Capstone project in order to complete the program. My Capstone project was investigating the knowledge of oral health in parents with children with cleft lip and/or palate. My project has lead to many opportunities like presenting at the AADR Annual Session in Tampa Bay. Capstone projects do take a significant amount of dedication however each student has the freedom to create and design their own project.

My experiences with SPDL have been great and I highly encourage younger students to pursue membership. The field of dentistry is very diverse and expands beyond flowable composites.  This program was designed to encourage students to take advantage of these opportunities. I believe SPDL truly represents “The Michigan Difference.”

Saroj Kumar Saha is a very active D3 who is serving on the executive committee for the Scholars Program in Dental Leadership at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. 

One Comment
  1. Hamilton Pham permalink
    February 10, 2012 2:32 am

    Hello, sir. I am looking to be dentist and am interested in leadership. I am inspired by your message and hope that one day I can make a difference in the fight against hunger. Thank you!

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