Making a statement

Making a statement

D.V.M. class of 2016 signs Code of Conduct pledge

By Karen Rhodenizer

code of conductThe 83 members of the College of Dentistry’s D.M.D. class of 2016 signed their class Code of Conduct Dec. 5. This tradition, started at the college in 2001, was an outgrowth of an exercise in the Principles of Oral Health Management course and a response to the stress created by Sept. 11, 2001. In the course, the class discussed how to identify personal values and the values of the class with the instructor, Henrietta Logan, Ph.D.

“This was right after Sept. 11, 2001. We talked about the effects of stress and fear, and how they can cause otherwise rational people to act irrationally. We agreed that it was important to form a cohesive statement of their group values so that, when stress or fear increased, it would remind them and others of their core values and make it easier to make the right decisions no matter what the situation was,” Logan said.

The class formed a subcommittee that drafted their code, then held an informal signing. This informal process was repeated in 2002, and became a formal signing ceremony in 2003.

Today the course has a new name, Ethics and Professionalism, and a new instructor, Frank Catalanotto, D.M.D., but the tradition remains.

“Each class develops their code, which they read and attest to again during their White Coat Ceremony following their sophomore year,” Catalanotto said. “Each code truly reflects the personality of the class. It’s an organic statement that grows from within and never fails to impress me.”

Dean Teresa A. Dolan, D.D.S., M.P.H., said that, for the members of the freshman class, this course is significant in that it truly represents the start of their dental education.

“Many of the courses you take during your first semester aren’t very closely related to dentistry; this one is,” she said to the class during the Code of Conduct signing event. “It teaches you to begin thinking as a medical professional, as someone who’s job it is to always put others’ interests before your own. As such, this ethics course and the code you developed during it, can be used as a roadmap for your dental education, and for your career.”

Dolan also shared her pride that, year after year, the concept of family makes its way into the class codes.

“Family comes in different forms and functions in our lives,” she said. “It is wonderful to see that you have formed your own family as a class, because it means you’ll be there to support one another, and to understand each other, as you move through your years in dental education.”