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News | Oct. 19, 2018

Dental assistant program trains volunteers for a career in dentistry

By 2nd Lt. Samuel Eckholm 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Red Cross Dental Assistant Program is back up and running, giving volunteers an opportunity to build a foundation for a career in dentistry at Joint Base Langley-Eustis now through March.

The six-month program provides hands on training for those with little to no dental experience, and is open to all military family members and retirees ages 18 and up.

Volunteers selected for the program work full-time from 6:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. weekdays.

“Throughout the program, volunteers are given the unique opportunity to learn about various dental specialties,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Angela Dunston, 633rd Dental Squadron Technician.

During the first phase, volunteers accomplish classroom training where they learn about dental instruments, anatomy, and physiology.

The next phase consists of hands-on training where volunteers shadow other assistants. During the final phase, volunteers have the opportunity to assist dentists on their own.

Upon completion of the program, volunteers receive an official American Red Cross Volunteer certificate of training. While this certificate will not qualify them as dental assistants, training hours can translate into transfer credits for programs that provide full certification.   

The program began in September, the first time it has been offered at Langley since 2008. Two individuals are currently enrolled in the program, Megan Barnard and Delci Davies.

Barnard, whose father is retired Air Force, first heard about the program from her mother who served as a dental assistant volunteer years ago.

“The most rewarding part of the program has been the on-the-job training,” Barnard said. “I have been able to learn so much from the hands on experience.”

Davies, a military spouse, hopes to become a dental hygienist and took advantage of this program to get into the field and learn as much as she can before continuing her education.

“This was the perfect opportunity for me to start my career as a dental hygienist and I have loved having the opportunity to learn so much about the dental field,” Davies said.

Both volunteers highly recommend the program to anyone interested in the dental field and said it is the best way to get your foot in the door. 

“The dental assistant volunteers do a lot for the squadron,” Dunston said. “We all appreciate how they are willing to give their time to learn a trade while also stepping in to help the squadron complete its mission each day.”

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