Christina Becker, CDA, may have celebrated her five-year DANB certification milestone, but she says it feels like just yesterday that she passed her exams.

Of reaching this DANB milestone, Christina says with a laugh: “It came quick — quicker than I thought it would!”

“It feels great! I feel great,” she continues. “I’m so happy. I have that overwhelming sense of being right where I should be, where I want to be.”

Becoming DANB certified was important to Christina. “I took this journey very seriously,” she says. “I knew that I wanted to put my best foot forward, and doing that meant, to me, to become certified. If I was going to do this, I was going to go all the way. To me, that’s all the way.

“I now have the confidence that I can go anywhere, because DANB certification is well-recognized,” Christina adds. “Employers look at that. It lets them know that I have gone as far as I can go, that I’m a professional, that I have competence and knowledge. It means a lot.”

Christina chatted with Dental Assistant Life and reflected on the past five years of her career as a dental assistant and DANB certificant. Read on to learn what she said!

The Road to Dental Assisting

You could say that Christina’s path to the profession was unique, inspired by a life-changing experience in the dental office.

“When I was growing up, I had cavities, and dental care was a luxury to us,” she explains. “When I did get to go to the dentist, I usually was having cavities filled.

“That’s why when I got my first job [before working in dental assisting], I made it a point to achieve a healthy, beautiful smile,” Christina continues. “When I went to the Oregon Health and Science University School of Dentistry for dental treatment, I grew close to some of the students who were working there. They encouraged me to get into the dental assisting field, because I always was really interested in what they were doing, and I wasn’t afraid [of the dental office]. So I attended Portland Community College and graduated from the dental assisting program in 2012 with an associate degree.” Christina also earned DANB certification in September 2012.

Christina says traveling this road to the profession only has enhanced her ability to thrive in her role and help others. “Being able to relate to my patients has made me a better assistant,” she says.

The Rewards of the Role

For Christina, working with patients is hugely rewarding — especially being able to work with those who are on their own healthcare journey. “Because I’ve been there,” she says. “For some, it’s a long road, you know?”

“Another reward is that the dental field is like a family,” Christina adds. “Each team member who I have worked with has become like family. They’re so supportive. I just love that aspect about the dental field.”

Additionally, Christina says she enjoys all the variety dental assisting brings. “No day is the same,” she elaborates. “Each day is so different, and it can be challenging, but you find the reward in those challenges. Because dental assistants juggle a lot. We’re the fuel to the whole machine, and I like those challenges.”

The Power of Perseverance

If there’s one great lesson that Christina says she has learned throughout the past five years, it’s to never give up — even if the circumstances are less than ideal.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with some awesome dentists and awesome teams, and also for an office that wasn’t a very great fit for me,” she explains. “And it was hard. It was really hard for me. I questioned my career. But I learned that just because I hadn’t found the right fit at that time didn’t mean I had to give up on my career.”

Now, Christina is happily employed at Mill Plain Dental Center in Vancouver, Washington. “I’m glad that I didn’t give up, that I just kept pushing forward and taking personal pride in what I do, knowing that the right fit for me was out there,” she says.

Advice for Assistants

Christina has some advice for dental assistants as they navigate their own paths, and it’s all about attitude and persistence.

“Always challenge yourself to be the best you can be,” she advises. “Keep a smile on your face, push forward and find what it is that you love. And keep at it. I’m able to put my heart into my job because I love what I do. I love working with patients and my team. I keep a positive attitude and keep pushing forward.”

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