FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. – Dental health activity officials at Fort Leonard Wood announced that the application deadline for the Winter/Spring Dental Assistant Training Program has been extended to February 28.
The free program – run in conjunction with the American Red Cross – is a six-month, 40-hour-a-week course that combines classroom instruction with hands-on basic education and clinical skills experience. The program is designed to provide the training and credentials needed to work at any Department of Defense dental facility and many civilian clinics, said Capt. Kyle Leach, dentist at Roll Dental Clinic .
“The Red Cross Dental Assisting Program is ideal for anyone who has ever thought they might be interested in working in the dental field,” he said. “Typical civilian dental assisting programs take one to two years and cost thousands of dollars.”
The program is open to any U.S. citizen 18 and older with a high school diploma or GED and a DOD ID card that gives them regular access to the facility, Leach said. Certificates earned in one location are honored throughout the DOD.
Gabrielle Evans was one of five people to graduate from the program on Friday.
“The dental field has always interested me,” she said. “Being a military kid and spouse, I always try to find opportunities to work with military families. Previously, I worked with military children in various child development centers and loved working with the families. I felt this program was a perfect mix of continuing to work towards my end goal of working in the dental field, but also continuing to work with military families.
Evans said the program is organized very logically, including an educational portion at the start designed to provide a basic knowledge of general dental terms, policies and procedures, infection control and patient safety.
“This section alone is crucial in determining if dental assisting is the right path for someone,” Evans said. “The practical experience for six months is another strength. The best way to learn as an assistant is to work on the job and see what works for you and the dentist you are working with at the time. For me, hands-on learning is one of the best ways to learn and retain information given. Not only are you assisting the dentist by passing instruments and materials to him, but you are at his side, monitoring the entire procedure and learning why certain instruments or materials are needed at that time.
One thing that helped make the program a little easier, Evans said, was the support from everyone at the two clinics she studied at — people in the program here usually train at the Roll and Boak clinics. .
“There were an awful lot of dental assistants, dentists and management who were more than willing to give us a dental knowledge base that would help us once we started chairside attending,” he said. she stated. “At the end of the program, speaking with dental terminology became another language for me and my fellow graduates.”
Kimberly Litzinger is a dental assistant at Roll, graduating from the program in 2016. She said she decided to apply when she was working a ‘minimum wage job’ and didn’t want to keep going into debt to pay his graduate studies.
“It seemed like a really good opportunity to learn a real skill set,” she said. “It was completely free and only required sacrificing 1,000 hours of my time. It also gave me a very good chance of getting a job on the job in a professional work environment; it required no schooling prerequisite; and he was paying a decent wage.
Everyone associated with the program was very helpful and “clearly wanted us to be successful,” Litzinger said.
“(The dentists) were always happy to explain in depth why they did things the way they did, which really helped me become a good dental assistant,” she added.
Leach said that while completion of the program does not guarantee employment, all graduates are encouraged to apply anyway, as historically many of the past graduates have been selected for employment at Fort Dental Clinics. Leonard Wood.
“Currently, there are several dental assistant jobs open in Fort Leonard Wood, as well as the surrounding area,” Leach said.
The program is worth it, Litzinger said.
“I know six months is a long time, but in the end, it’s 100% worth it,” she said. “I like being able to help the soldiers here. Whether it’s fixing their smile or relieving them of pain, you meet a lot of good people. »
There are many rewarding aspects of being a dental assistant, Evans added.
“One of the most rewarding is seeing patients respond to their completed treatment,” she said. “The gratitude and enthusiasm that patients share with the dental team is gratifying in itself. Knowing that you are the reason someone can put on a brand new smile, boost their self-esteem, and help the military is so rewarding.
Anyone interested in applying to the program is encouraged to call Jason Ramlow at 816.536.0108 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.