Great dental assistants have a passion for helping others. So it’s no surprise that they often volunteer in their local communities or abroad. After all, volunteering is a great way to develop new skills and connect with other dental professionals while also lending a hand to those in need. Here are just some of the rewarding experiences dental assistants have gained by putting their skills to work in the service of others.
Dentistry Goes Mobile on the West Coast
Pam S. enjoyed her experience volunteering one summer when she worked in a mobile dental van. She provided dental services to uninsured, low-income patients in a small coastal town near the California-Oregon border.
“It’s so important for a traveling dental service van to reach these rural areas where healthcare is so limited,” she says. “The patients are so grateful for the service. We transformed the smile of one young woman who came in for a third molar extraction in the morning. She then waited around until there was time in the schedule that afternoon to get some much-needed anterior composite filling. I bet she is still smiling.”
Volunteering Across the Globe
Carolyn N. has practiced her dental assisting skills around the world thanks to Healthcare Ministries, an organization in Missouri that leads worldwide medical missions. Her volunteer mission trips have included visiting Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. During those trips, Carolyn creates teaching presentations and materials for children and adults and delivers community health programs. She also performs chairside assisting and infection control duties in the dental clinic.
“I always think back to one of my favorite quotes: ‘To the world you may be only one person, but to one person you may be the world,’” she says. “That really sums up what I have done – especially with the mission trips. They’ve changed me.”
Laying the Foundation Early
Many dental assisting programs consider volunteering in the community as an integral part of their curriculum. Students get the chance to practice their skills while benefitting residents in need.
Luna Community College (LCC) dental assisting students in New Mexico have provided free dental services and education as part of the New Mexico Mission of Mercy project. Services have included providing restorations, dentures, partials and dental prophylaxes for adults and children.
“The experience is an astounding learning event. It provides students with a better understanding of how effective and satisfying it is when we practice as dental assistants and give back to a community in need,” says Gloria B., who administers the LCC program.
How do you use your dental assisting skills to give back?