FORT IRWIN, Calif. – Fort Irwin Dental Clinic Command began the American Red Cross Dental Assistant Training program Feb. 7 at the Shuttleworth Dental Clinic, here.
The Dental Assistant Training program is open to military spouses and family members 18 years and older and provides participants didactic and hands-on dental assistant training.
Jessica Moore, a dental assistant at Shuttleworth Dental Clinic, previously taught the program for three years in Hawaii and currently teaches the course on Fort Irwin.
“We do all the training, teach them dental specialties, give them hands-on experience for 1,000 hours, and then at the end of the 1,000 hours they get a certificate of completion,” she said.
Though the program itself is free, participants do pay out of pocket for their X-ray certification and Basic Lifesaver Course.
During the 1,000 hours of training, participants gain a wide range of experience.
“While they’re here, they’re going to go through [the sterilization process], X-ray, radiology, learn how to work in the lab, watch every specialty that we have here, learn how to work the front desk, how to make appointments, file the records away, and learn our whole filing system,” Moore said. “They watch for a couple of weeks and they have an assistant in the room for a couple of weeks to make sure they’ve got everything down … and after a couple of months they get to be on their own.”
Upon completion, graduates of this program can use their dental assistant training to work in dental offices in both the military or civilian sector.
Stephanie Haydt, spouse of Brian Haydt, the command sergeant major of the National Training Center, chose to participate in the program after hearing about it from a prior coworker who had switched into the dental career field.
“She told me how much she loved it and … I decided that sounds like a great change for me,” Haydt said. “I wanted to change careers and work with Soldiers and civilians, and get to know the community.”
Haydt said she also wanted to prepare for the future after her husband retires.
“Whether we stay near a military base or not, I just needed a career that I could grow into,” she said.
For Haydt, the goal of her participation in the program is clear.
“[My goal is] getting the certificate and being able to serve the military,” Haydt said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Moore encourages anyone who is interested to participate in the program.
“All I have to say is I love my job and I don’t want to do anything else for the rest of my life except for dental, so if you’re even thinking about it, give it a shot,” Moore said. “Look it up, and hopefully we can do this again next year and more people can sign up.”