News: Red Cross training preps spouses for dental careers
Story by Lance Cpl. Andrew Thorburn
The American Red Cross is offering to train family members of military personnel aboard the Combat Center for careers as dental assistants at the 23rd Dental Company on Griffin Street.
“Being a dental assistant in the dental field, in my opinion is a respectful career,” said Ginisha Charles, a contract dental assistant at the clinic.
Some students like Shantell Pacheco plan to take the training and then use it to further their careers in the dental field.
“Hopefully after I graduate, I want to get a job and start paying for school so I can become a dental hygienist,” Pacheco said.
With class sizes, usually around six, the Red Cross typically holds two, six-month iterations of the class per year.
“We have six different students, and we put them through each of the different departments,” said Charles.
Petty Officer 1st Class Jerry Wolf, a hospitalman for the dental clinic, said they use the crawl, walk, run method to train the assistants.
They follow an assistant who shows them the day-to-day routines, said Charles. “When they feel comfortable enough, and when we feel comfortable enough with them, we let them step in and assist.”
Charles said those who choose to go at it alone through a home study course can expect to pay as much as $5,000 and not get the valuable hands on experience.
Unfortunately, not everyone makes it through this training. Often personal issues such as moving, deployed spouses and family problems force 25 percent, to drop out.
Charles recommends those who wish to follow this career path to make an honest self assessment because this career is not for the squeamish. Three problems commonly plague students during the course, said Charles.
“The typical things like the sight of blood, fear and nervousness because you are working with a doctor,” Charles said.
“For the candidates who have children or their husbands are deployed, that can be kind of difficult as well,” Charles said. “It is a 6:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. job, Monday through Friday.”
For those who are determined to become dental assistants, there are teachers and staff available to help them get over personal barriers.
“I’ll tell them to go home and go YouTube,” she said. “You can see surgeries on YouTube. It’s so they can have an idea of what they are going to see, because you can see everything on YouTube.”
The current class is completing their final course hours and are excited to receive their diplomas and begin their careers as a dental assistant.