by Dr Alizey Shahid
Aneeqa Aslam is a promising young founder of the Pakistan Association of Dental Students. The team envisioned to uplift the medical and dental education standards in Pakistan to establish a global presence. Within a year, Aneeqa’s well-versed attitude, compassionate leadership and critical reasoning successfully made Pakistan a member of the International Association of Dental Students (IADS) in 2020. Recently selected as Regional Ambassador of Asia-Pacific Elect, she is elected by votes of all member countries across the globe with a lead of 10 votes.
This young dental student, a country representative, and regional ambassador for Asia-Pacific at IADS set a perfect example for ‘women in dentistry’
Ms Aneeqa Asalam, the patriotic social activist, explained, “To remain at par with international standards, each dental student needs to participate in global extracurricular activities for value-added international exposure. These programs are of utmost importance for everyone as it boosts confidence, nurture etiquette develops understanding, and cultivates a passion for dentistry, on both national and international platforms.”
International Association of Dental Students was found in 1951 to serve dental students’ educational needs, provided an opportunity to connect worldwide, participate in community service, and foster soft skills. Currently, with the joint efforts of PADS, the non-government organisation has enrolled around 40 dental colleges in Pakistan. Astonishingly, over a short period, many members of PADS truly benefited from IADS programs and represented their colleges as an oral health advocate at the IADS international forum.
The Initiative Taken Under COVID 19 By IADS
In 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic condition intrigued IADS to design a concept of ‘Green Dentistry’ to help countries formulate policies, extend international support, and develop critical systems to enhance virtual presences for e-learning programs. However, the association is struggling to reorganise the exchange program and voluntary work due to the critical situation. Aneeqa discussed, “Regardless of the situation, my current agenda is to empower new Member Associations/Countries of the Asia Pacific region, design strategies to enhance connectivity, connect more countries with the IADS and collaborate with Asia Pacific Dental Students Association (APDSA) and American Medical Student Association (AMSA).”
Challenges Pakistani Dentist Face
Aneeqa expressed, “The comprehension of the students in the research field is not at par with the international students due to lack of proper facility.” With new programs and degrees, many contemporary researchers are outgrowing; however, limited accessibility to the laboratories and inadequate functioning of the ethical committees reduces the available active grounds for clinical research in Pakistan. Thus, in Aneeqa’s opinion, universities should actively promote research and encourage students to explore in-depth.
Message For Aspiring Students Of Dentistry
Aneeqa believes that the best way to be successful is to own your profession and explore the journey from the beginning. There is a common misconception thriving among the students to plan for their career after graduation rather than preparing alongside studies. This often leaves many to struggle for a long time. Hence, she recommended to avail each opportunity one receives from the start of their first year to better understand and comprehensions. For example, volunteering for community service assists seniors in research or attachments in nearby clinics.
Never stop learning and exploring; it gives deeper insights to your fieldAneeqa Aslam
-The author is contributing writer at Dental News Pakistan and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org