A few years ago, Rebecca Moore and Emily Ranton decided individually to enroll in the Dental Assisting Program at Southeastern Technical Institute. Little did they know that throughout the nine months of becoming a Dental Assistant at STI, they would gain a valuable friend to work with and continue their education with! We caught up with them recently to learn more about their journey.
Why did you pick STI?
Becca: Honestly, I picked STI after reading a post on Facebook from a friend about how she just graduated from such a great dental assisting program! I was looking for a new school as the previous one I attended had shut down. STI was the best decision I ever made.
Emily: I picked STI for the the excellent academic Dental Assisting program they offer and the success of their graduates.
What was your favorite thing at STI?
Becca: My favorite thing was being in the clinic and meeting one of my lifelong friends, Emily! We met at STI, worked together at our first job after school, got into Dental Hygiene school the same year and tackled that journey together too!
Emily: My favorite thing was the student to instructor ratios. I always felt the instructors were available and willing to help when I needed. I am happy to have met Becca as well!
When did you realize you wanted to become a Hygienist?
Becca: It definitely wasn’t always the case. In high school, I wanted to be a nurse. One day I saw something about dental assisting and thought, “wow I love seeing people smile, maybe I can be a part of that smile!” Shortly into the program at STI, I knew I wanted to continue my education at some point to become a hygienist.
Emily: I was an assistant in a General Dental office for 5 years, and I wanted to continue my education, and help patients in need of routine oral care.
How did STI play a role in your path to becoming a hygienist?
Becca: STI gave me such a great foundation. I was able to build off everything I learned at STI and apply it to working at a dental office and also for the basics of dental hygiene school. The teachers at STI were amazing , they were so passionate about dentistry and I knew I wanted to be just like them some day. The really encouraged lifelong learning and I now understand how important it is to constantly learn something new!
Emily: STI was the foundation of my understanding of the dental world. After being an assistant for years, I decided it was time to continue my education.
What was your favorite part of Hygiene school?
Becca: My favorite part of hygiene school was learning a wealth of knowledge about the oral cavity and oral health. I used that knowledge to educate my patients in the clinic. I knew I was doing something right when all of my patients were so happy with what I was telling them and they were so appreciative of the information! There is not better feeling than making a connection with your patients and seeing them leave happy!
Emily: My favorite thing about hygiene school is how “hands on” the clinic is. I feel like we walked through the doors and we were learning instrumentation right away. Not many months after, we were practicing in each other’s mouths.
What surprised you about Hygiene school?
Becca: I was surprised at how much effort and studying I would need to do. I knew it would require a lot, but I never imagined what it would truly be like. I was surprised at all the different career pathways that becoming a hygienist would allow, there are so many more careers to do in dental hygiene rather than just be a clinician!
Emily: The biggest surprise was how difficult and time consuming the program really is; but in the end it is so worth it!
What advice would you give prospective students that are considering STI with the ultimate goal of becoming a Hygienist?
Becca: I would say 100% take this opportunity and never look back. The worst thing that could happen is STI opens your eyes to the dental field and you absolutely hate it OR you will absolutely love it and want to continue further! Some of my classmates went through hygiene school with no dental background and that is such an accomplishment, but I would highly recommend a dental assisting program, like STI, to get your feet wet in dentistry. There were some things I learned from STI and carried with me through hygiene school and I couldn’t imagine doing it with no background. I would definitely encourage you to take your pre-reqs at a community college after STI and as soon as you have the idea of maybe wanting to be a hygienist. I waited 4 years to start that journey and I wish I pursued it sooner than that! STI opens the door for great opportunities and you make a lot of great connections. The dental world is SO small and you want to make sure you make connections where ever possible! And study your butt off, because it certainly pays off! It’s not easy, but you can do it!
Emily: For me, having the background of both the assisting program, and work experience prior to hygiene school gave me the introduction I would need to tackle the hygiene program.