In 1987 I began my 4th year of dental studies in Marseille (France). I was responsible for my local dental student´s association, and was also a member of the national executive of UNECD (the French dental students association).
I realized at the time, with the president of our student's association Mathieu Brenac, that there was no association gathering dental students from the different countries of the EU (the EEC at that time gathered only 12 countries). Indeed, the frontiers between countries still existed and free moving was partial for European citizens and we didn’t know anything about free circulation for diplomas.
However, there was a very important date for us, the 1st of January 1993. This was the day when all the frontiers in Europe would be abolished and with it all the consequences for our future occupation (free circulation of diplomas, citizenship etc). We had to be prepared for this deadline, even though we anticipated that there wouldn’t be a surge of dental students all over Europe.
Moreover, another historical reality was about to happen. This was of course the crumbling of the eastern European countries lead by a communist regime. The political changes were leading to the emergence of new democracies in Europe, which meant for me that we would have a lot of new dental students to defend. I therefore realized that the interest for creating a European dental student´s association would be necessary. The goal of the association would mainly be to promote the harmonization of dental studies, gathering proper knowledge and overall to be able to meet each other as European dental students. Not to forget, of course, to promote European exchange-student programs, such as the Erasmus.
To reach this aim I had to meet with the other members of the French dental student´s association, to convince them of the necessity for establishing an association on a European level. At this moment the IADS became in my eyes the most important mean for reaching this goal. France had not been a member of the IADS for years, so I decided to make UNECD a member again. And so we did.
It was with the help of the IADS that I got the chance to be in contact with members from student organizations such as Great Britain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and also some that were not yet members of the EEC, such as Sweden. After acquiring those contacts, I then made a trip to some places in Europe to meet with the dental students and convince them of the necessity to at least create national organizations. Indeed, I remember that in Spain at this time there was no national organization for dental students. The dental studies had been abolished in 1948 replaced by stomatologists and recreated in 1985. The 1st class was about to graduate in 1989.
We continued to reach different student organizations until the end of November 1988. After some hard work of gathering representatives from the different national student organizations, we finally and officially created the EDS (that Française-building of Paris. The aims of the association and the dates of up-coming meetings to write the constitution of our new European Association for Dental Students were established at the same time. The EDS had its first meetings in Portugal (Albufeira) and in Germany (Mainz). We did also participate at the IADS congresses in Bern and Verona, as well as during the midyear meetings in London. It is thanks to the help of the IADS at the beginning of the EDSA, that we need to remember their great support, even though our aims are now very different!
These meetings permitted us to get to know each other better, to gain a social basis of future work and also to appreciate each other as colleagues of the same medical field. I still remember some of my friends from the EDSA; Andrea Bresin, Ian Harders, Ulricca Jacobson, Marjolein Fokke and so many others. By the time when the aim to compare our different levels of studies and the number of years of studies were reached, we decided to create the EDS magazine. The magazine was to be used as a platform where students could take part of each other´s dental research and results. In the meantime we met the Comité de liaison pour la formation en Chirurgie Dentaire de la CEE and the ADEE, with whom we always tried to increase a healthy relationship.
After one year as president of the EDS, I retired from my responsibilities at the same time as my work was finished and so were my studies. I then started a new life by founding a family and begin my professional life, which of course is another story. I left the presidency to Andrea Bresin, who today is a professor of orthodontics in Sweden. Andrea then handed the presidency over to Lars Christensen and so it goes on until today.
Since I retired from the EDS, I have to admit that I haven’t heard much news from the association. But today, I can say that my pledge is to stay in contact with your representatives and provide any help that is needed (or if only to have the honor of taking part in any EDSA-event, as I know that the association is developing of its own accord!).
Thank you for continuing with the dream!
Written by Dr. Jean – Luc Bueno, Former president of the EDSA