Temecula Dental Assisting program director motivates students to stay dynamic in evolving field
The open road adventures Cindy Ovard and her husband Kevin experience every time they climb onto their touring bike reinforce the ideology she brings to her Dental Assisting program students and instructors: Be forward-looking; embrace change and adventure.
The dental industry is in a constant state of evolution with new technology at the forefront. As Dental Assisting program director for the Temecula campus, Cindy has sound advice for those embracing this career path. “Don’t be stagnant,” she cautions. “Stay dynamic, ever-changing. There is so much new technology out there, you have to be open to new ideas and growth.”
Since joining the SJVC Dental Assisting program’s management team five years ago, Cindy has brought her considerable skills, dental health experience and industry philosophies into positive play.
She has devoted 25 years to providing chair-side dental assisting services, back-office support and office management in the private sector. Cindy has also taught and supervised college-level Dental Assisting programs.
With a Bachelor’s degree in education and a talent for articulation and writing, Cindy has developed dental health and education protocol and has written several published articles related to that industry. She has enjoyed making contributions to the Dental Assisting program’s curriculum and education goals at SJVC. “I like to bring in new ideas,” says Cindy. “I work in coordination with program directors (Dental Assisting) on our other campuses who are open to seeing the value of what might improve curriculum.”
Cindy is exactly where she imagined she might be at this time in her life. You might say it was her destiny. “I’ve always been fascinated with people’s teeth,” she confesses. “Their smile is what I always notice first. My parents instilled in me to always maintain good oral hygiene.” It’s a tradition her children Danielle and Dallin followed when they were growing up.
Her message was the same to her children and the many patients to whom she subsequently provided dental care and oral hygiene instruction: “You will take care of your teeth. If you won’t, I will!”
Cindy supervises Dental Assisting program instructors and steps back into the classroom to work directly with students. She loves the hands-on interaction of clinical instruction. “I try to be one-on-one with my students,” she says. “I love to teach students how to hold the hand-piece correctly, so that they don’t get hand fatigue. Holding it properly will influence how well they perform the procedure.”
She is also very present with her faculty. “As the leader of a team, I try to always show my appreciation for them,” says Cindy. “I remember what it was like for me as a brand-new teacher and the first time I taught adult learners. I tell instructors to have patience with themselves, see how they can improve and then just do it better the next time. The more experience, the better you’re going to get.”
One of Cindy’s favorite classes to teach is the RDA Licensure Review Seminar; the last class in their dental program that helps prep them for the Registered Dental Assistant exams. “I love that class,” she enthuses. “They already know all of the things they need; it’s just pulling it out of their brains in preparation for that test. It’s reviewing and refreshing and providing the triggers for them to retrieve that knowledge. It’s having them be at that point of excitement to take their exam.”
The review class has proven to be quite successful and the perfect booster to the Dental Assisting program. “If one of our students doesn’t pass the RDA exam, I take it personally,” says Cindy. “And, I know our instructors feel the same way. We take it to heart. We want our students to lock in the skills they need to go out there and do the job.”
And those successful Dental Assisting program students have receptive employers in the wings.
“Our Dental Assisting program is so accepted in the professional community,” says Cindy. “They know that we put out a quality Dental Assistant and that we have a successful track record. SJVC’s reputation is known in the community for both Dental Hygienists and Dental Assistants, and I want what I do to help hold that up.”
A strong faculty helps to maintain that stellar reputation, and SJVC is always recruiting excellent talent and ambition for key instructor positions. “Most of our Dental Assisting instructors work chair-side for a dental office and love being able to stay up on any changes in the industry – plus they get to interact with patients,” says Cindy. Instructor positions at SJVC are part-time and perfect for those who want to balance direct patient involvement with grooming future assistants in the field.
A stable and successful career can meet many life ambitions and needs. Sometimes it is a fulfilling position in the dental field that will allow you to regularly feel the breeze off the ocean or smell the crisp mountain air as you head down the road on the back of a Kawasaki touring bike.
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