Recently, the students in the Dental Assistant program at Ross Medical Education Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan got the opportunity to take a field trip. Their instructor, Shellie Shaw, CDA, CBCS, CPC, CMMA, took her class of morning dental assistant students to West Michigan Endodontics to witness first-hand the kind of work they will potentially see as a dental assistant. Endodontists specialize in saving teeth in various ways such as root canal treatments and diagnostics, which Shellie’s class had covered during module 5. Their goal is to help each patient to maintain their natural smile for a lifetime.
While at the facility, students had the opportunity to meet with Dr. John Thomas, DDS, MS, and his staff. They then got to tour the facility and even got the chance to watch a live root canal. “While classroom learning is important, it is crucial that students watch and participate in real-life situations,” Shellie explained. “Exposure to working practices helps prepare our students for when they enter their career.” Although each student will get hands-on experience in the classroom and then in their externship, it helps many of them to ease some of their anxiety when they get to actually visit and see dental care in action.
The general consensus from the students about the overall experience was extremely positive. In fact, many of Shellie’s students agreed that the field trip increased their excitement about starting their future careers. “The visit really set in stone the fact that I want to be a dental assistant,” shared Dental Assistant student Victoria Churkina. “After watching a real procedure I am less stressed and scared to start.” Other students expressed similar sentiments about the experience and how it made them feel more prepared and comfortable about their career choice. Many of them also said that they would love to continue to make more visits like this one in the future.