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How to get involved in the BDSA

During the British Dental Students' Association (BDSA) Council and BDA Students Committee meeting held last October, the Council agreed that the 2022-23 goals of the BDSA would focus on fostering better relationships.

Joshua Kennedy
Joshua Kennedy BDSA President

This attitude towards community building was reflected in the response received to the latest BDSA conference hosted in Plymouth at the beginning of March. There was a strong desire for student representatives to become more involved with the BDA and everything it has to offer.

Becoming a BDA representative

The BDSA is run by student representatives from every UK dental school and an annually elected Executive Committee voted in at the Annual General Meeting. By being a BDSA representative in your dental society, you will also be part of the BDSA Council along with the representatives from the 16 dental schools. The BDSA Executive Committee manage the activities of the BDSA Council, which in turn forms the BDA Students Committee. The BDSA President is the Vice-Chair of the BDA Students Committee.

While the BDA and the BDSA are two different organisations, they work very closely together."

While the BDA and the BDSA are two different organisations, they work very closely together.

Becoming a BDA representative is a greatly rewarding experience. Each UK dental school has one junior and one senior student representative, also known as BDA representatives. These are elected in a variety of ways, depending on the individual dental school. Usually, the position is voted in at dental society elections. Each representative holds office for two years, initially in the junior position and then progressing to the senior one.

BDA reps have two roles, sitting on the BDSA Council to support annual social events, and being part of the BDA Student Committee to represent students at their dental school and deal with political matters. However, being elected as representative is not the only way students can get involved, all positions in the Executive Committee except President and Communications Officer are open to all dental students. The Treasurer/Secretary role is open to all dental society Presidents and Vice-Presidents. BDA representatives also have the opportunity to be elected as the student representative to various committees within the BDA. These committees include the Armed Forces, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion as well as Young Dentists Committee.

Being elected as representative is not the only way students can get involved."

Opportunities available to representatives

The role of a representative includes supporting and promoting BDA membership and events within your dental school or canvassing student opinions on issues to raise. It is also a great space for networking and learning opportunities.

You will have the chance to work closely with the European Dental Students' Association (EDSA). They host bi-annual meetings, providing opportunities to network with and learn from members of other national dental associations across Europe.

The EDSA provides an array of opportunities for UK dental students for international travel. European Visiting Programmes (EVPs) allow students to visit other dental faculties in foreign countries for educational purposes, along with summer and winter camps organised for dental students involving workshops, lectures, and projects. The most recent EDSA mobility projects include trips to Slovakia, Croatia, Turkey, Bucharest, and Estonia.

The BDA also provides access to their Future Leaders Programme, which provides career development opportunities for dental students. This Programme has been designed to allow BDA student representatives a clearer understanding of the inner workings of a trade union and professional membership organisation. It gives undergraduates an insight and access into the BDA's network to allow them to better understand the different career paths available and the work done on behalf of members and the profession.

The aim is to encourage and nurture student's political aspirations by pairing them with senior board members, to gain an insight into their daily lives, their accomplishments and what they hope to accomplish in the future. This is in hope to inspire them to continue their political involvement and, once they qualify, become part of the many other committees.

All dental students also have the opportunity to be awarded the annual BDSA Charity Award, aimed at recognising an individual dental student and dental school society for outstanding contributions to fundraising endeavours.

How to become involved in organising a BDSA Event

Filling the role of Sports Day Organiser and Conference Organiser is a further way students can become involved and sit on the BDSA Executive Committee.

Any UK Dental Student can put their university forward to host a BDSA Event. This is done through their BDA representative, with the university Dean's approval. Those hosting will be voted in at the BDSA Annual General Meeting, which this year coincides with the Leeds Sports Day event.

Becoming a BDA member

A BDA membership offers benefits to students and postgraduates alike. They support members through every step of their professional development. Student members benefit from a graduate offer which gives you all the benefits of an essential membership for just 49p per day.

If you are interested in becoming a member you can find out more on the BDA membership pages. If you have further questions, then either speak to your school BDA Representative or email [email protected].