CDA Essentials 2017 • Volume 3 • Issue 4

21 Volume 3 Issue 4 | N ews and E vents SPEA is a student-run association with local chapters in numerous dental schools across the United States and Canada. “SPEA was created roughly 10 years ago by student leaders in California,” explains Samneet Mangat, a fourth-year student at the University of Detroit Mercy, who originally hails from Calgary. What started with a small group of students wanting to promote ethics within their own school eventually led to chapters all across North America. “To date, two dental schools in Canada (Toronto and Western) have joined the 46 American schools that are currently members of SPEA,” adds Dr. Arnold Weingarten, a member of the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) Board of Directors who previously served with the ODA’s Education Committee and chaired the Dentists at Risk Committee. Dr. Weingarten first became aware of SPEA when he was inducted as a fellow of the American College of Dentists (ACD) in 2012. “The president of SPEA presented a report at the ACD convocation,” Dr. Weingarten remembers. Impressed with what he heard, he immediately saw the support role SPEA could play in the education of Canadian dentistry students. Dr. Weingarten came back home with a vision of all Canadian dental schools uniting with their American peers under the SPEA umbrella. It is no surprise that the ACD—with its mission to “advance excellence, ethics, professionalism, and leadership in dentistry”—supported a group like SPEA. The two organizations share a common mandate of strengthening personal and professional values within the profession, and SPEA members can learn from established dentists who have likely experienced similar dilemmas. SPEA offers a non-punitive, open platform for students to learn more about ethics and professionalism, put into practice the ethical standards governing the profession, and discuss sensitive issues. “We typically host meetings where we have guest speakers, established dentists who talk about ethical dilemmas they’ve encountered in private practice, in addition to those one may face during dental school,” says Ms. Mangat. “It gives us the opportunity to speak out on such issues and it helps us acquire the tools we need to handle these situations in a professional and ethical manner.” Dentistry students can also access study cases and dilemmas from the SPEA website. “We’ve done a few of these case studies at our school and I found it important to discuss those sensitive topics,” notes Ms. Mangat. “That’s the beauty of SPEA: it’s an open platform. It’s a great way to help students overcome the possible ethical dilemmas they may face during dental school and in private practice.” The case studies, which cover a range of topics such as analgesic abuse in pediatric patients and concerns over the quality of care provided by a colleague, can be downloaded and discussed in seminars. They come with a 6-step ethical decision making model to help students clearly identify the dilemma and navigate through its successful, ethical resolution. “We want students to truly understand that being part of a profession comes with great responsibility,” adds Ms. Mangat. “That’s why I would encourage every dental school in Canada to aim for the creation of a SPEA chapter of their own.” That hope is shared by Dr. Weingarten, who has witnessed the installation of the first Canadian chapters. “We are well on our way to achieving that goal!” a Giving Students the Foundation for ETHICS ANDPROFESSIONALISM Listen to an interview with Samneet Mangat at /2016/02/03/spea To learn more about SPEA, visit Potter Stewart, a past associate justice of the American Supreme Court, once said that “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.” It is that sense of righteousness and integrity that the Student Professionalism and Ethics Association (SPEA) wishes to instill in future dentists. CDA Principles of Ethics In 2015, CDA published its updated Principles of Ethics to define the fundamental commitments that guide a dentist’s ethical practice and to which the profession aspires.