DMD Class of 2016 signs Code of Conduct Pledge

The 83 members of the freshman D.M.D. Class of 2016 signed their class Code of Conduct on Dec. 5, 2012. This tradition, started at the University of Florida College of Dentistry in 2001, was an outgrowth of an exercise in the Principles of Oral Health Management course and a response to the stress created by September 11, 2001.

In the course, the class discussed how to identify personal values and the values of the class with the instructor, Professor Henrietta Logan, Ph.D.

“This was right after September 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, and then held an informal signing. This informal process was repeated in 2002, and then 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 own 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 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. 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 road map for your dental education, and for your career,” she told them.

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. 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.”

University of Florida College of Dentistry D.M.D. Class of 2016 Code of Conduct

Preamble.  The members of the Class of 2016 are honored as we enter into the distinguished profession of dentistry.  We believe the primary purpose of this Code of Conduct is to express the values and expectations of this class academically and professionally, and carry them with the utmost regard into our professional careers. It is also intended to provide a framework that incorporates the diversity of this class into practices to which all members will adhere. We will strive to exemplify the principles that will continually lead us in the appropriate direction to be able to provide the best dental care to our patients and be outstanding leaders in the community.

Family.  We profess to treat one another with love and respect, just as one would with their family. As expected in a family, there will be challenging times; however, we must not forget that we are never alone. On this journey, we promise to help, support, motivate and encourage our fellow classmates. Furthermore, as a family we are responsible for both our fellow classmates and ourselves. In our dental family, true strength comes from unity and we strive to stand with one another through this journey. “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.”     – Richard Bach

Integrity.  We profess to remain worthy of trust by adhering to the highest standards of integrity. We must be careful stewards of the faith placed in us by whom we serve. Our decisions and actions reflect not only our character but also that of the institutions we represent: the College of Dentistry and the dental profession. “We would rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.”  – Sophocles

Accountability.  We profess to hold one another accountable for our decisions and actions in both our years as student dentists and throughout our professional careers. To us, accountability demands responsibility of the group to ensure the sound practices of its counterparts. We must remember that we will always be judged and measured by the community around us, and that we are not free from the consequences of our actions. “A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.”  – Thomas Paine

Service.  We profess to serve others with both passion and compassion. Our goal is to impact our community by reaching out to the underserved and increasing access to care. We commit to always strive toward self-improvement by remaining continual learners in order to better serve those in need with our skills and talents. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Health.  We profess to improve, protect and advocate for the health of our patients. We believe everyone should take action to improve their personal well being. We pledge to be the ambassadors of good health by living active lifestyles and sharing our knowledge with others. Leading by example, we can improve the health of not just individuals, but of our society as a whole. “For he who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything.”   – Owen Arthur