Dental Students Learn While Supporting a Good Cause

Offering low-cost teeth whitening tools for a donation provides valuable experience

In addition to providing career training to its students, the American College for Medical Careers in Orlando is committed to getting involved with the community and also to giving back directly to local organizations. This month the team behind the Dental Assisting program has reached out to Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Central Florida (RMHCCF) to show support for the organization, which generously offers comfort and care to premature babies, sick children, and their families. RMHCCF helps families remain close to the resources their children need by providing housing, rooms, and mobile care, as well as grants and scholarships.

As a fundraising initiative, students and instructors in the ACMC dental program are offering personalized teeth whitening equipment for a donation of $10. All funds raised will be gifted to the charity, at an event on May 24, when Kayla Jones, RMHCCF’s Events Manager, will come to campus to speak. “Students, staff, and faculty have been actively participating,” says Campus Director Marsha-Ann Burrell, “and the students have been so excited to show off their skills!”

Katherine DeJesus, the Dental Assisting program’s Lead Instructor, explains that, for the $10 donation, students take impressions and then provide the individual with a custom-fitted tray, which they can use with over-the-counter whitening products or at their own dentist. She adds that this equipment seriously defrays the cost of what can be a $400 procedure at a dentist’s office.

“In preparing the patients to take the impression, and then fabricating the trays, students gain valuable hands-on experience,” DeJesus says. The technical aspect is taking the impression and then using it to set the cement molds that are used to make the final trays. “Taking impressions of so many different patients offers perspective on how to handle the range of circumstances that can arise,” says DeJesus. “This includes people with mouths of different sizes, or who might be sensitive to gagging.” She points out that this is one of the several “expanded functions” that the ACMC program offers, which sets the school’s program apart.

The initiative started on Thursday, May 11, and as of the 15th, already close to 40 people—including instructors, staff, and students in other programs—had signed up for appointments.

Dental student Sonza Massey is grateful for the opportunity that initiatives like this provide. She says they complement the coursework as well as Career Development preparation she’s doing for when she goes out for her externship experience. “This includes discussions about what a specific company might be looking for, how to tailor our resume, and the importance of sending ‘thank you’ letters,” says Sonza. “We talk about having a strong handshake at the interview, being sure to introduce yourself, and making choices in terms of an interview outfit and how much makeup and jewelry to wear. We get a chance to ask lots of questions.”

DeJesus notes that in the “Office Assisting” course, students also learn how to use the software that’s common in most dental offices, called Eaglesoft, as well as how to do schedule, charting, and radiology (both traditional and digital). She says, “The radiology training especially makes ACMC candidates eligible for many of the jobs that are posted today, because it qualifies the dental assistant to perform certain responsibilities the dentist would otherwise have to handle him/herself.”

Sonza wants any prospective students considering coming to ACMC to know how much support they will have on campus. “Most people I meet say that the biggest obstacle to starting a program like this is a fear of failure,” she says. “I also had those fears. But I want people to know that, if they decide to come, the instructors and staff are here to help. If you think you have a problem—of any kind, big or small—there is always someone here who can help you solve it.”

Future community initiatives for ACMC will include supporting the Relay for Life Cancer Walk, which takes place in Orlando in November. The campus will be organizing related events for students this summer.

This article is part of the weekly blog of the American College for Medical Careers in Orlando, FL. Learn more about our various professional training programs, or reach out to us for information or to schedule a campus tour.