Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine held its first Ethics Week, emphasizing the importance of making ethical decisions in practice and in life.

“The importance of the decisions that students make now, and the impact those decisions will have on their future careers, may not be evident to pre-doctoral students. Some students may not have been faced with ethical dilemmas, and may unintentionally go down the wrong path,” said College of Dental Medicine Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Andrews, DDS, MS. “We are not only teaching our students the clinical skills to be a good dentist, but — more important — are helping them to mature into ethical, caring professionals.”

More than 100 dental students joined Assistant Professor Jeffrey Elo, DDS, MS, as he shared his experience in expert witnessing and case defense for dentists on Nov. 26, 2012.

Fourth-year College of Dental Medicine (CDM) students met in small groups with first-year students to talk about the American Dental Association (ADA) Code of Ethics and to have an open discussion about ethical policies on campus that affect their future practice beyond graduation.

Larry J. Moore, DDS, MS, a Fellow of the American College of Dentists, urged students to promote ethical dental practices throughout their career.

Keynote speaker Gerald Winslow, PhD, Professor of Christian Ethics at Loma Linda University, talked to about 70 students on Nov. 29 about his research on the top 10 ethical issues in dentistry as reported by practicing dentists in California and Indiana.

“Ethics in the profession starts now,” said fourth-year CDM student C. Colby Gage, DMD ’13, ethics chair of WesternU’s American Student Dental Association, or ADSA@WesternU.

“Graduates face a lot of pressures — financial pressures, the pressures of being an associate, and wanting to begin their career. You have to make ethical decisions on a daily basis. Talking about it now, focusing on it now while we’re in school, helps us build a strong foundation to being a good professional.”