Dental Assisting Careers Begin Here
(pictured above:ESCC President Dr. Jim Shaeffer, Reyanna Wade, and Dr. Randi Wingate)
“I wanted a career that I could have no matter where I decide to live,” says Reyanna Wade, who completed Eastern Shore Community College’s Dental Assisting class last year.
“It may surprise some people,” she explained, “but I always loved going to the dentist as a kid. I took the class because I want to help make others have a great experience like I did growing up.”
The course is only eight weeks long and is instructed by Dr. Randi Wingate, DDS, of Eastern Shore Rural Health (ESRH). “It’s a way to help prepare students for an entry-level dental assisting position,” says Dr. Wingate. The course includes eight hours of clinical observation at one of ESRH’s dental clinics. “The clinical experience embedded in the course provides students with exposure to a real-world dental setting,” Dr. Wingate explained.
Looking back on the class, Reyanna says, “Dr. Wingate was an amazing teacher. She was always happy to answer any questions you had. In the class we went over all the different instruments for different procedures, what they do, and their names. This truly prepares you for the day-to-day of this role.”
The class emerged from a partnership between ESRH and ESCC to expand workforce training and employment opportunities within our local community. Scott Hall, ESCC’s Workforce Business Solutions Officer, explained that there is a dire shortage of dental assistants on the Shore. “Eastern Shore Rural Health told us about the need, and we said, ‘We can help.””
Dr. Wingate says ESRH has hired several graduates since the course started in 2020. “This has helped to significantly reduce the amount of on-the-job training that is required upon hiring dental assistants without previous experience,” she says. “We have also developed additional opportunities for career advancement within the organization.”
Reyanna is currently working in the Pungoteague Elementary School Dental Unit. She says, “Once I have enough hours of experience, I would like to take the exam to become a certified Dental Assistant and then go on to becoming an Expanded Function Dental Assistant.”
As Reyanna says, dental assisting is a field with job opportunities no matter where you live in the United States. It’s an entry-level position that can lead to other credentials and jobs that pay very well.
Dr. Wingate adds, “We are so grateful to ESCC for making this benefit available on the Shore. In just eight weeks you can complete the course and begin working.”
“What a ‘YES!’ for the Shore,” says vice president of academics, Dr. Patrick Tompkins. “In all of our programs, we identify what support students need and then match them with available resources. Sometimes folks are just a little afraid to dream. They think they can’t have Reyanna’s success. But you should give us a call—we can help. “
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