ADA Honors Dr. Charles Bertolami with 2010 Distinguished Service Award

9 10 2010

The American Dental Association (ADA) will honor Charles N. Bertolami, D.D.S., with the 2010 Distinguished Service Award at the ADA Annual Session, Oct. 9 in Orlando, Fla. Dr. Bertolami, the dean of the New York University College of Dentistry, will be honored for his years of service and dedication to the dental profession and the praise he has earned over the years for teachings on ethics in education. The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor conferred by the ADA Board of Trustees.

“We are fortunate that Dr. Bertolami is one of our own,” said ADA President Ronald L. Tankersley, D.D.S. “Throughout his career, Dr. Bertolami has been an exemplary role model for his students and colleagues. Being multidimensional, he has positively impacted those in research, education and private practice. But, it’s his passion for assessing and promoting professional ethics that truly distinguishes Dr. Bertolami during a time when ethical misconduct is a significant concern. The ADA recognizes the need for more dentists knowledgeable in the subject of dental ethics.”

In 2007, the ADA sought Dr. Bertolami as a featured speaker for the Association’s Symposium on Integrity and Ethics in Dental Education. Then dean of the University of California at San Francisco School of Dentistry, Dr. Bertolami had written a widely-circulated article in the Journal of Dental Education, “Why Our Ethics Curricula Don’t Work.”

The ideas put forth in the paper “had been ruminating” for a while, said Dr. Bertolami. As he saw it, the problem was not that students didn’t know right from wrong. “They did what they knew was wrong because they thought there was a short-term need to do so.”

The challenge for educators is to present intellectual content in a way that “inspires, captivates, excites and role models students to do the right thing,” Dr. Bertolami said, “not only because it’s in their best interest to do so, but because it’s so much more fulfilling.”

Put into practice at New York University, these ideas have led to the creation of an honor court called the Student Peer Review Board and mission trips abroad that have brought down the “us-versus-them” structure of education. A committee of dental students at every grade level comprises the board that reviews all disciplinary actions, including dismissal from school.

Dr. Bertolami said he is pleased to be honored with the Distinguished Service Award because it is from the organization that speaks for the entire dental profession. “It really is a wonderful way to demonstrate to our students that if you do the best you can, good things will happen to you,” he said.

Dr. Bertolami earned his dental degree from Ohio State University College of Dentistry and completed a residency in oral surgery at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital.

From ADA Press Release

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