Ashlie Halton participated in our first ever Dental Assistant Program, a four-week bootcamp that helped prepare participants for a career in the dental field through specialized classes which led to earning certificates. She shared her experience with us–what she liked, learned and what advice she’d give to others who were interested in becoming dental assistants.
I heard about the San Diego Workforce Partnership through the San Diego Housing Commission. I had been working in childcare for eight years and was trying to figure out what field I wanted to go into. I was researching the different programs the Workforce Partnership provides and I thought I might want to do dental. No one in my family is in the medical field and I wanted to do something medical related. I mentioned my interest to my career navigator, Josh, and he told me about the Dental Assistant Program.
The program was a lot of work, but I learned a lot. I was surprised how many different fields there are available to go into–orthodontia, coding and even billing. Not only did we learn about all the different options within dentistry, but we learned about how to actually run a dental office. I also learned about working with a diverse group as you have to be flexible and patient with people.
I really liked the teacher, she was awesome. She was flexible with us and since we had a lot of information to learn, she made sure that we all understood the material before we moved on to the next section. She also didn’t leave anyone behind.
There was a moment when I was with the teacher, holding the instruments, that it just sort of clicked for me where I comprehended what I was supposed to do and I knew the steps. I knew what I was doing and felt like I could go into an office and do it. After completing the program, I went into interviews and I wasn’t timid. I was confident because I now had the experience necessary for the positions I applied for.
I’m currently working at a dental office in an administrative role. I do the scheduling, insurance, estimates, and billing and I manage the front desk. When I’m doing the scheduling, it really helps to know about the procedures so I can make sure we have enough room and the right equipment available. There have also been opportunities for me to go in the back and actually learn more about the dental assisting part!
Long-term I think I’d like to be a hygienist. I’d like to do something to help change people’s smiles, give them good oral hygiene advice and make them feel really good about themselves. To me, your smile is everything, like that one song that states, “you’re never fully dressed without a smile.”
For anyone else considering going through a program like this, know that it was a lot to go through in four weeks. But I learned a lot and I feel like it really prepared me for my job, so I truly think it’s worth it and I would take it again. Take it seriously, be ready to learn and to be challenged, but take the time and enjoy it too.