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Taylor Koren goes to Washington

Washington National Health Policy Externship

D2 Taylor Koren, left, with fellow Washington National Health Policy Extern Michael Capp, from Minnesota, who is also a second-year dental student 

Photo courtesy Taylor Koren

This D2 passed the dog days of summer at congressional hearings, meetings and the occasional election-year fundraiser. Why did he do it? For behind-the-scenes experience in national health policy making, of course.

There is no “average” workday in Washington, D.C. Not even for American Student Dental Association externs getting a taste of organized dentistry on Capitol Hill.

For D2 Taylor Koren, one of just two externs to spend four weeks in Washington this summer, the days “varied as widely and whimsically as the congressional schedule,” with appointments at hearings, markups and — a given during election years — fundraisers.

Koren, the junior legislative liaison for the college’s ASDA chapter, recounts a particular highlight during one breakfast fundraiser, which was in honor of a congressional representative who is also a dentist. Koren made sure to arrive early to the exclusive National Republican Club of Capitol Hill, a move that bought him valuable face time.

“The representative was happy to hear of my position as a student at the college and told me a story of how he pulled a tooth on the House floor!” Koren says.

Koren was initially interested in the Washington National Health Policy extern opportunity — one of the ASDA’s national leadership positions — because it offers behind-the-scenes experience in working toward national health policy changes, he says.

As an extern, Koren worked at the American Dental Association’s Washington office and was directly involved in the legislative process. Meetings with health policy experts, lobbyists and dental organization leaders were regular agenda items. During the externship, Koren even attended the biannual board meeting of the American Dental Political Action Committee, which he detailed in a posting on the ASDA blog.

The externship had quite an impact on Koren, who plans to stay involved in organized dentistry.

“It’s incredibly important for dentists and dental students to maintain an active part in organized dentistry, advocating for the dental profession,” Koren says. “Having the opportunity to work as an ASDA-DC extern allowed me to witness the beneficial legislative influence the ADA exerts on shaping national oral health policy.”