July SPEA Spotlight: UPenn

Happy Summer from all of us at SPEA! This month we are highlighting the amazing SPEA chapter at UPenn School of Dental Medicine. I think most of us can agree that it is a real challenge to get people excited about ethics. When people hear the word ethics it is often associated/linked with the words boring, or uninteresting. Unsa Malik, the SPEA chapter president at UPenn, has been creative and innovative in trying to get her student body more interested and involved with ethics and ethical dilemmas at their school. We are very excited and proud of what is being accomplished at UPenn. Read further to see the ideas that Unsa and her presidency have initiated and incorporated into their SPEA chapter.


How many members do you have in your SPEA chapter?
We have approximately 65 people in the Penn chapter of SPEA including 6 board members.
What are some things you have done to increase membership/how have you more effectively promoted SPEA?
At the beginning of each semester, the school organizes a club fair where each student club has the opportunity to promote their mission and offer information about events and how to become a member. Membership is free for all students and is open to all class years.
What are some problems your SPEA chapter has faced? How have you overcome those?
One of the challenges our team has faced was low attendance at some of our smaller events earlier this year. We hosted a few guest speakers but attendance was on the lower end and it wasn’t long before this concern was brought up at our next Board Meeting where we brainstormed ways increase student engagement.
What has been your most successful event this year? (Please provide a summary of the event and pictures)
When I became President of SPEA, I was more than thrilled to say the least. While I enjoyed many of the events and traditions our past presidents held, I had a vision of my own. This year, our board members and I launched “SPEA Week”, a weeklong series of events regarding ethical dilemmas specifically geared towards students and new dentists. For Monday’s event, we made an “Ethics” box where students can anonymously submit ethical concerns they had regarding school or clinic. At the end of each week, board members and I would read these concerns and discuss them with our faculty advisor. On Tuesday, we hosted a photo-op with students and faculty to re-vamp our social media profile. This included getting a Penn Dental backdrop, with face props (speech bubbles that named the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Conduct). This event, in particular,  was a fun way to gain awareness and engage our student body to learn more about our chapter. On Wednesday, I invited one of my mentors, a local dentist in Center City Philadelphia, to discuss ethics in providing comprehensive cosmetic care. Thursday’s event was a lunch and learn debate between two students regarding the licensing exam, ADEX. To conclude SPEA week, Friday’s event entailed an arts and crafts project where some of our creative board members made a poster board titled “What does ethics mean to you?” Students and faculty would write a few words in response. Donuts were provided for participants.
Have you done any fundraising? If so, what types of things have been successful? If not, how have you received funding in the past?
We were fortunate enough to collaborate with the Office of Alumni Relations in hosting many of our events. Some of our alumni were very generous in sponsoring the food we provided for our attendees. In previous years, we held bake sale fundraisers where all the proceeds went to sponsor students to attend Annual Session.
What have you found to be the most successful way to get students excited about SPEA?
Some of the most effective ways to increase student engagement and attendance is 1)adequately advertising events on different social media platforms 2) providing free food, and 3) offering selective credit to students who attend (students have a certain amount of credits to fulfill in courses outside our curriculum, “selectives”, and some of our guest lectures qualified to count towards that graduation requirement. 
Keep up the great work UPenn. As the reader, we hope this spotlight has given you some ideas to maybe try and adopt at your school. Ethics really can be interesting and exciting! If you have questions for Unsa, feel free to email her at unsa@nullupenn.edu. If you have questions for us, our email is speadental@nullgmail.com. We look forward to seeing UPenn at Annual Session this year, held in San Francisco from September 6-7. If you are interested in attending Annual Session, there is still time to register. For more information, and to register for Annual Session click here.