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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Motivated Dental Assisting Student Excels During Externship

March 10, 2021

Motivated Dental Assisting Student Excels During ExternshipChristian’s dental assisting instructor, Sherisse DeCanio, says he was easy to teach because he was motivated to learn and asked lots of questions.

“Christian was always asking ‘Why?,’” Sherisse says. “He wanted a deeper understanding. He jumped into whatever we were learning without hesitation, and he would go above and beyond.”

Sherisse often grouped Christian with students who were struggling because he understood the material quickly; she could rely on him to have the right information.

Christian rolled with changes easily, even challenges brought on by Covid 19. He continued to shine at his externship, where he was quickly offered employment. He will graduate in March of 2021.

Here, Christian tells us more about himself and about his experience as a Dental Assisting student at SJVC.

What did you do before you began studying Dental Assisting?

I’m a military veteran, and I was working as an electrical line worker in Colorado. The job was just too hard on my body, though. I wanted to find something new and decided to go back to school. When I looked at SJVC, the Dental Assisting program really interested me—and once I started, I discovered that I had a passion for it.

How did the SJVC program prepare you for your career?

It was a very demanding, challenging, and rewarding experience overall. It’s a hands-on program, we worked with different instruments, and it went through different specialties such as endodontics and orthodontics. The program was very broad, it was very good to get information for each specialty.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your course of study?

It was tough because our classes were online then shifted to in-person. Shortly after, I got sick with Covid; this was stressful because I had to stay out for two weeks and needed to finish my hours. I kept up with online classwork but had to wait to schedule live patients on campus. When I returned, I had fewer days to complete everything, but I did get it done.

Can you tell us about your externship?

My externship is at Better Life Center for Implants and General Dentistry. I was just hired as a Dental Assistant, working in the back office assisting hands-on.

What do you like most about being a dental assistant?

I like working with patients, learning who they are and what they want. Recently I was really happy to have caught a mistake with a patient’s implants that could have caused her some discomfort. I brought it up to the lead assistant and we were able to correct it. I felt good about that.

It is amazing to participate in oral surgery, and I really like learning new procedures. I thought I’d end up in orthodontics, but I love working with dental implants. We didn’t study implants in depth at school; it was challenging to learn about, but I really enjoy it.

When a patient gets their final prosthesis, it’s such a great thing to be part of. We get to see them before they have any work done, they’ve had to show their teeth and be photographed. Getting implants is a long process, and our lab is phenomenal. They fine tune everything and when they deliver to the patient, it’s life-changing for them.

Was there a moment in your career that reinforced your decision to work in dental assisting?

It really clicked for me when we began studying in person and worked with instruments for the first time. We weren’t able to work on human mouths until close to end, and when I worked with the instruments, I knew it was the right thing for me. I had great instructors. I really enjoy what I’m doing and can see myself doing this for a long time.

What got you through the hard times at school?

It was hard at times, especially online. I had a six-month-old baby with me during Teams calls, talking in the background during classes. So, we worked out a system where my sister-in-law took him during classes, and that helped. My family helped me get through it; I couldn’t have done it without the support of my wife and sister-in-law.

Is there an SJVC instructor of staff member that you’d like to acknowledge?

Sherisse DeCanio was my first instructor when we got back on campus; I really appreciated the way she broke things down during lectures. There were a couple of moments I had to thank her because hearing it from her made it click. She has been an RDA for over 20 years; she guided us not just as students but as fellow dental assistants.

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