May SPEA Spotlight: LSU

In 2007 a group of dental students at the University of Southern California wanted to find a way to become more involved with the ethics and professionalism surrounding dentistry and promote better ethical practices at their school. The results of their efforts led to the founding of SPEA, which stands for Student Professionalism and Ethics Association in Dentistry. The organization grew and was eventually recognized as a national organization in 2011.

Since SPEA’s national recognition, it has spread throughout North America, consisting of over 57 chapters; 3 of those being in Canada. Membership has been increasing more drastically each year with new chapters being founded across America. The intention of these blog posts is to spotlight some of the amazing SPEA chapters we have, be it new or already well-established. We hope that these spotlights will either inspire you to organize a chapter at your school if one doesn’t exist or grow the chapter already set up.

Recently LSU Health School of Dentistry’s SPEA chapter was formed by first-year dental students Alexander DeGenova and Katelyn Kirkpatrick. Since its formation, the chapter’s membership has grown to 60 members. We asked Katelyn and Alexander a series of questions to give you a better idea of how their chapter is growing and how they have found success in spreading the SPEA fire at LSU.

How many chapter members do you have this year, and how much growth have you seen from the previous year?

60 official members – 20 to 30 who regularly attend meetings. Our first meeting was in February 2019 and we have met once a month since then.

What sort of things have you found most successful in improving chapter involvement?

Providing food at events and sending out reminders helps keep members coming. I’ve noticed when we fail to send out reminders just before the event there is a significant drop in attendance.

How do you get students at your school excited for SPEA?

We like to highlight the opportunities SPEA provides for leadership and professional development. Our curriculum does include a Professional Development course, but there just is not enough time to cover everything we would like. A good number of students hope to run their own businesses someday, so we try to bring in speakers and discussions that will be of interest to future business leaders.

What types of events have you hosted this year? Please highlight your most attended event.

Because we are just getting our chapter started we have mostly focused on lunch and learns, but do have some great ideas in the works for the future. Our most successful event was our very first lunch and learn at which Dr. Klintmalm gave a short discussion on SPEA and how the organization benefits members now and in the future. He also highlighted a couple of real life ethical situations that he experienced first-hand which left a lasting impression on students. We had about 60 members attend this meeting.

Alex DeGenova and I were invited to attend an ACD/ICD dinner in Baton Rouge where we gave a short talk about SPEA and how it related to ACD/ICD. This was a great opportunity to network with dentists in the community and several volunteered to speak to at one of our meetings.

How have you received funding, or found necessary funds, for your chapter this year?

We received a generous donation from the ACD to get things started and our Dean has volunteered to sponsor our lunches. He has also volunteered to fund 2 student’s attendance to annual session this year. We are in the midst of planning some fund-raising activities now, so that we will have money to invest in other activities later this year.

The LSU SPEA chapter has found a lot of success, and we are amazed at how fast their chapter is growing. We, as the national SPEA Executive board, hope that LSU’s answers to these questions spark some ideas on how to improve your chapter. If you have questions for Katelyn or Alexander, don’t hesitate to reach out to them. They can be reached via email at We look forward to seeing LSU SPEA at our Annual Session in San Francisco this year, September 6-7. If you are looking to attend Annual Session, more details and registration can be found on our website under the Annual Session tab, or you can contact us at Keep up the great work LSU!