A Look Back – ASDA Leadership

What was one of your worst days in school/SIM/clinic that you’re able to laugh about now?

“One day in sim, we were working on natural molars that required us to mount it in our typodonts in the correct position. Of course, I accidentally mounted my molar backwards. I remember feeling embarrassed, especially when my bench faculty had realized my silly mistake. Thankfully, the teeth we work on now are already “mounted” in the patient correctly!” – Rachel Bryant

“As a D1, dental school has been great so far! I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by so many people that are also following their dreams.” – Sophia Taghavi

“First day of drilling, couldn’t do it. But it soon got much easier.” – Carl Prince

“Our first day making provisionals for a #7 emax crown prep and finally making a good one after 16 attempts and many tears later.” – Maileen Phoeung

“When we started using indirect vision for maxillary class I preps on #14, HA HA HA, those were not pretty at first. And definitely made me feel a little cross-eyed. ” – Siri Vasireddy

“The day we made stone models first year was probably my worst day in sim. My first model had bubbles so I had to redo it, then on my next one I chipped the front teeth with the grinding wheel, so I did a third one. Once I finished my third one, I asked an instructor for help separating it and it got cracked in half. Then when I was about to start on a fourth try a different instructor told me it would be fine to just super glue the model back together since it was a clean break, and then he added “your first model is fine for the purpose of this activity.” By this time the day was over so I went home, vented to my mom and slept until the next day. The good thing that came from it was now I have enough models to work with for multiple projects! And I got a ton of practice.” – Mikaela Weedman

“Our first day drilling in SIM. I remember feeling like it was so foreign and that I would never be able to accomplish a prep. Looking back on it now, all of the frustration was a part of the process.” – Amanda Tran

“I thoroughly enjoy school, I have not really had any bad days yet. Just tired days.” – Kari Zins

Non-traditional Spotlight – Casey Brewer ’21

I grew up working on cars with my dad. Although he did it professionally during the day, nights and weekends were spent helping me develop my mechanic’s hands and teaching me principles of mechanical systems. College, much less dental school, was never even considered. However, I developed a love for math and science and with the encouragement of some influential high school teachers, I found a path that would complement my passion for turning wrench with solving equations. I finished a mechanical engineering degree and started working in the automotive industry to develop airbags. I was able to oversee manufacturing equipment for multiple auto manufacturers and later transitioned into a role designing and testing airbags specific to individual vehicle platforms. I found great satisfaction in knowing the work I did everyday was literally saving lives. However, as the time behind a computer screen became the majority of my work week, I became disillusioned and began looking for a career change that would give more opportunity to use my hands and to help others. At the same time, trauma to teeth #7 and #8 resulted in RCTs. I looked around the endodontist’s operatory and had an epiphany; dentistry is just engineering. Now, in dental school, I’m able to apply those principles of design, material science, and engineering to one of the most mechanical systems in the human body. 



– Casey Brewer, Class of 2021

Midwestern’s Music Monday – Felicia Desai ’21 and Judy Nguyen ’21

A weekly mixtape of Monday jams to get you through your week. Enjoy a curated playlist by our very own Midwestern ASDA dental students to listen to whether you’re in clinic or SIM. New playlists posted every Monday. Always fresh.

This week’s playlist is curated by our very own Felicia Desai ’21 and Judy Nguyen ’21

Felicia Desai and Judy Nguyen, Class of 2021

Non-traditional Spotlight – Casey Bowen ’21


Prior to my dental school quest, I was a quality control tester for construction materials for 13 years (seasons). It was a manual labor job that included repetitive testing of aggregate materials of various sizes and quality for asphalt products throughout the stages of production. Quality control testing was a fun job that saved my employer thousands if not millions by carefully and quickly examining products and tuning them to the proper specifications. This usually meant working 60 – 80+ hours per normal week and being assigned to multiple airport and many of the major highways paving projects statewide.  This job utilized my skills and in turn our team gained countless quality bonuses and awards all over the state of Alaska. 

However, the wear and tear on my body and the social environment that I was putting myself in were not conducive to raising a family. In 2011 my wife and I decided to go to college to gain an education that would allow me to spend more time with my future family and earn a decent living. After completing my degree in Animal and Veterinary Science and finding out that I was allergic to many of the animals I intended to work on, I quickly changed focus to becoming a dentist and haven’t looked back. My journey has not been the most direct path, but many of the skills and talents gained have increased my ability to perform dentistry and appreciate the road to my own success. 

– Casey Bowen, Midwestern Class of 2021

Midwestern’s Music Monday – Jenn Hecht and Jose Estrada ’21

A weekly mixtape of Monday jams to get you through your week. Enjoy a curated playlist by our very own Midwestern ASDA dental students to listen to whether you’re in clinic or SIM. New playlists posted every Monday. Always fresh.

This week’s playlist is curated by our very own Jenn Hecht ’21 and Jose Estrada ’21

Jenn Hecht and Jose Estrada, Class of 2021

Dental Advocacy – Ben McGiffin ’23

My name is Ben McGiffin, and I’m a D1 here at Midwestern University. I’d like to share a little bit about my experiences in dental hygiene and being an active member of the American Dental Hygienists Association prior to becoming a dental student and ASDA member. During my 9 years as a registered dental hygienist, I have been an active member of my local, state, and national dental hygiene associations.  I attended several WA state House of Delegates meetings and 3 national dental hygiene annual sessions in: Washington DC, Boston, and Las Vegas.

The dental hygiene association in Washington state has long been a powerful advocate for dental hygienists in the state. They’ve helped expand the hygiene scope of practice in order to improve access to care and increase the efficiency of the dental team. Dental hygienists in WA state were the first to be able to deliver local anesthetic to patients, getting it through the state legislature in 1971. 

Expanded duties legislation passed the Washington Legislature in 1971, adding anesthesia and some restorative dentistry procedures for dental hygienists. Dentists supported these expanded functions as a way of handling increasing numbers of clients by using dental hygienists to take over selected duties, saving time for dentists.” (wsdha.com) (emphasis added)

In addition to local anesthesia, WA state was among the first states to allow hygienists to safely deliver nitrous oxide, finish restorations, and provide direct access to hygiene care for patients in elementary schools, nursing homes, and public health facilities. 

Meanwhile, a handful of states still do not allow hygienists to deliver local anesthetic under any circumstance, or even clean a child’s teeth while not under the direct supervision of a dentist. 

I worked for 5 years in low-income elementary schools, providing basic dental hygiene screenings, cleanings, sealants, fluoride varnish, and oral hygiene instructions to thousands of children, many of whom had never been to a dentist. I distinctly remember one child who presented with 5 draining fistulas. While I couldn’t officially diagnose caries or abscesses, I alerted the school nurse and the parents that he had holes in his teeth and several painful, draining lumps on his gums. He had been living with pain in his mouth for months, if not years, and we were able to get him to a dentist that afternoon. This highlights the value that hygienists can have working independently from dentists. 

It’s no secret that the dental and dental hygiene associations often butt heads when it comes to dental hygiene scope of practice. For me, it comes down to two things. The first is this: properly trained dental hygienists are better equipped to provide dental hygiene care than dentists, period. They are the leading experts in the fields of prevention and routine periodontal therapy, spending a minimum of two years in an intense curriculum focused solely on these two areas. I see no reason why a properly trained hygienist should not be able to practice dental hygiene in any and all capacities and settings. Especially in areas where dentists are sparse, hygienists could provide affordable and effective preventive dentistry services.  

That being said, my second point is this: dental hygiene and dental hygiene education does not include restorative or operative dentistry. While the push for midlevel providers is admirable from the standpoint of increasing access to basic dental services, I believe that the gap between hygiene and restorative/operative dentistry is significant. Even in the first quarter of my D1 year, I can appreciate the magnitude of the preparation, knowledge and training necessary to safely and competently provide these services. As an active ASDA and future ADA member, I plan to advocate for dentistry. For me, that includes both dentists and dental hygienists, as well as dental students, assistants, and patients.

– Ben McGiffin, Midwestern Dental Class of 2023

Midwestern’s Music Monday – Judy Nguyen ’21

A weekly mixtape of Monday jams to get you through your week. Enjoy a curated playlist by our very own Midwestern ASDA dental students to listen to whether you’re in clinic or SIM. New playlists posted every Monday. Always fresh.

This week’s playlist is curated by our very own Judy Nguyen ’21

Judy Nguyen, Class of 2021

Wellness Wednesday – ASDA Leadership

It is Wellness Wednesday here at Midwestern-AZ! One aspect of Be Well ASDA is take care of ourselves and our bodies! Check out the different ways Midwestern ASDA Leadership members stay healthy during dental school!

What is your favorite recipe?

“Strawberry Banana Smoothie: 2 cups fresh strawberries, 1 fresh peeled banana, 1 cup almond milk, 1 cup ice, 1 tablespoon honey, ½ cup non-salted almonds (if you want a little bit of a crunch!)”

“Salad Shirazi (Persian Cucumber & Tomato Salad)”

“Whole wheat turkey sandwich with spinach and tomatoes”

“Anything with avocado”

“Banana protein pancakes”

“Tandoori chicken drumsticks”

“My favorite healthy recipe is quinoa stuffed bell peppers. Just mix quinoa, black beans, tomatoes, onions, jalapeños and taco seasoning and stuff it inside of some bell peppers.”

“Pesto Salmon”

“I’m boring, I eat a lot of chicken, brown rice and veggies.”

“Tabouli Salad”

“Tomato and cucumber salad”

What is your favorite way to exercise?

“Running or walking my dog Scout”

“Hiking and dancing”

“Crossfit”

“Sunset hikes on Thunderbird Mountain!”

“LEGS. squats, deadlifts, laying down on the yoga mat pretending to stretch”

“Yoga & strength training”

“I like to go to the gym and lift weights and I also like to hike for cardio.”

“Any class like a Zumba or yoga class”

“Soccer is always my favorite way to workout.”

“Kickboxing”

“Hiking and snowboarding”

Happy Halloween ASDA- Rachel Bryant ’21, ASDA Chapter President

Some argue that Christmas or Thanksgiving is the best holiday, but I have to respectfully disagree. Hands down it is Halloween. Some believe in the stereotype that dentists are supposed to hate Halloween because of the increased volume of sugary treat consumption. As a dentist-to-be, I can put that stereotype to rest and assure you I will never be the house that passes out toothbrushes or raisins. After all, I don’t want my house to be egged. Interestingly enough, the ADA rates Halloween candy based on how bad it is for your teeth. Any guesses on what candy is the least bad for your oral health? It’s chocolate! So, while you are chowing down on your Halloween chocolate this year, do so guilt free. The ADA says so! Unfortunately, sticky and hard candies are rated as the worst for your teeth. This is bad news for me because my favorite candy is a frozen Twix bar. 

As Halloween approaches this year, I am still pondering what I am going to dress up as. This is like every other year, where I wait until the last minute to decide. Of course, I like to make my costumes, which adds an extra layer of stress with the time crunch but makes the costume that much more fun. There is a small point of pride when I can make my costume super inexpensive, yet creative. One trip to Goodwill, the dollar store, and an occasional Hobby Lobby splurge and I am set. 

Here at Midwestern, it is a tradition to get your Halloween picture taken by Tom, our sim lab manager and Dexter guru. He will take your costume to a whole new level with his photoshopping abilities. 

Paige Davis, Rachel Bryant, Al the gator, Shannon Bischoff, and Macie Kerr 

I can’t wait to see everyone posting their Halloween costumes on social media.

Happy Halloween ASDA! 

– Rachel Bryant ’21, ASDA Chapter President 

Midwestern’s Music Monday – Brandon Herrscher ’21

A weekly mixtape of Monday jams to get you through your week. Enjoy a curated playlist by our very own Midwestern ASDA dental students to listen to whether you’re in clinic or SIM. New playlists posted every Monday. Always fresh.

This week’s playlist is curated by our very own Brandon Herrscher ’21

Brandon Herrscher, Class of 2021
October 27, 2019