In June 2017, Cora Lee Kelley, CDA, of Evansville, Indiana, celebrated 60 years of DANB certification. Here, Cora discusses the most memorable and rewarding aspects of her 63-year dental assisting career.
Finding Dentistry as a Career Path
Cora’s career in dental assisting began the summer between her junior and senior years in high school, when she worked part-time in the general dentistry practice of the late Dr. Olin Helm. Dr. Helm later became an orthodontist, and Cora worked for him as a dental assistant until his retirement, when she joined the office of Anthony R. Klein, D.D.S., in Evansville. “I was going to be a schoolteacher, but I fell in love with dentistry,” says Cora, who has worked for Dr. Klein for the past 20 years and as a dental assistant for 63 years.
Cora says interacting with patients is the most rewarding aspect of her work. “I see how dentistry changes people’s lives,” she says. “Patients can come in and have a real need for dental work. When their teeth are fixed and they can smile again, it changes their personality. They have more confidence in themselves, and it makes me feel good that we’ve had a part of it.
“I’m a people person,” Cora continues, “and I enjoy talking to the patients and educating them.”
Volunteering and Mentoring
Cora also has mentored several area students, including those from the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville who have come to Dr. Klein’s office. In addition, for approximately the past 10 years, she has been volunteering with the Evansville Christian Life Center’s Health Clinic quarterly dental blitzes. “They serve people who don’t have any insurance or are in need,” Cora says. “They’re so grateful.”
In addition, Cora has learned about the importance of involvement in organized dentistry. A life member of the Evansville Dental Assistants Society (EDAS), Indiana Dental Assistants Association (IDAA) and American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA), Cora served as IDAA president from 1963-1964 and as EDAS president from 1958-1959. She also has served as a delegate from IDAA to 13 ADAA meetings.
“I didn’t know then that I would become as active as I have in the dental field,” says Cora. She recommends up-and-coming dental assistants also get involved.
“Involvement is [key] for growth. You have to become active to really enjoy dental assisting and do well.”
What have been some of your memorable career moments?