As a displaced survivor of Hurricane Katrina, I like many others had been thrown in a situation where our lives as we knew it had been destroyed. I had invested 30 years to teaching, 25 of those years were with special needs children. I worked with a multidisciplinary team consisting of a school psychologist, educational diagnostician, speech therapist, social worker, physical therapist and occupational therapist. My job as an adapted physical education evaluator was to evaluate and recommend placement in the least restrictive environment. That was my day job. Most teachers had second and sometimes third jobs outside of teaching to make ends meet. At one of my regular dental appointments, my dentist’s receptionist had to leave because of illness and he did not have anyone to answer the phones and greet his patients. I volunteered to help him out and was asked if I could continue after school.
After a devastating event, how do you rebuild and start again? I loved two things; teaching and dentistry. I am a worker. I enjoy helping people but I love learning new things, excelling at it and sharing with others.
When I arrived in TN, I was fortunate to find a job in teaching. It was not a permanent position and it was not with special needs children. I applied for and began volunteering with a hospice organization to fulfill my need to help others and still do it to this day. I received Volunteer of the year award in 2013.
I began reaching out to dental assisting schools in 2012, going on tours and gathering information for my second love, dentistry. I soon realized that some schools were extremely aggressive with automatic calls throughout the night and sales calls during the day. They were very expensive and would take more time than I thought I had to give their programs.
I shared my story with one of the ladies at my Zumba class and she told me about this dental assisting course she saw in the Parent’s Magazine. I immediately went the next day to find one.
I arranged for a tour and received information from the website. I researched and found that it was listed as a Post-Secondary Education Institute under the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC). The cost was a lot less but you get the full course experience that included hands-on training in the beginning of the course. This is different from the other schools I toured where the externship was at the end of an 18-24 month course. I had some experience but I so respect the role of a dental assistant.
Attending an accredited program is of course the best choice. Pursuing your Certified Dental Assisting credentials through DANB is the way to go. If I was younger, and had more time, it would have been my choice.
When you make the courageous decision to change your life by choosing this career, you should be given a little history of your chosen profession.
That is what I wanted to see in my school, a history of dental assisting. As a brand new student, everything is unknown. You are presented with textbooks that are the size of an encyclopedia, workbooks and Instruments that you must learn. It could be overwhelming.
I needed students to see what would be waiting for them at the end of their journey. So, after I graduated, I requested and was granted permission to enlarge and post The ADAA Dental Assistants Pledge and Creed.
I remember my tour of the school and have seen the deer in the headlights faces of potential new students. It is overwhelming. However, a packet with information of the school is given at the end of the tour and I now have been able to include both of these documents. It is the reason why we become dental assistants.
It is never too late to learn. As far as I know, I am the oldest student to graduate from my school. After graduation, the very first thing I did was join our national dental assisting organization, the ADAA. Being a member is the first step, now you have to be active and provide a service. I am the Secretary for the TNDAA and the Vice-President of our local society. The support and love I have received from the many dental assistants whom I met at my 1st national meeting was awesome. I witness the most solemn induction ceremony for dental assistants who are now Fellows. I am now pursuing my Fellowship to achieve the award of excellence and would not have given it a second thought without the encouragement of those wonderful dental assistants who have achieved this goal already.
You can never stop learning. Dentistry changes every day, and we as dental assistants must stay prepared to change with it. Remember this, O.A.A. =Observe, Absorb and Achieve. I read the Dental Assistants Pledge and Creed often to remind me of those whose visions have become reality. It also reminds me that we as professional dental assistants must continue to pass the legacy to those who come after us.
Do you remember them? I have included a copy here so you do not have to search for one.
-Loyalty, Efficiency, Service and Education. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful tribute to begin and close our Annual Conferences with the reciting or reading of the words of Juliette A. Southard and Dr. C. N. Johnson?
Always remember why you chose dental assisting. To be the best at what you were trained, to continue learning, to be loyal to your employer and your profession and to serve your patients.
Yvonne Evans-RDA, BS
Tennessee Dental Assistant Association Secretary-2013-14