Dental Assisting Student From Carrington Tucson Experiences Both Orthodontics and General Dentistry During Externship
When Maritza Estrada visited the Carrington College Tucson campus to learn more about its Pharmacy Technology program, she also saw Dental Assisting program students learning, hands-on, and her interest was piqued.
“I really wanted to do Pharmacy Tech,” Maritza says, “But when I looked into the Dental Assisting program and learned about all of its opportunities, and then really thought about it, I realized I’m a much more hands-on person—and that the program would be a better fit for me.”
Martiza soon enrolled in the Dental Assisting program; once she was settled in, she began to recognize what a difference she could help make in a person’s life.
“I realized I could help change someone’s smile and build their confidence,” she says, “And having that confidence could help lead to more opportunities in that person’s life.”
Maritza is now in her fifth term of the Dental Assisting program, currently focusing on radiology, and she is about to begin her externship with a local dental office, Risas Dental and Braces.
“We (dental assisting students) are trained in all the dental specialties, so I could go into any specialty,” she explains. “But in this particular externship, I’ll get experience in both general dentistry and orthodontics.”
COVID-19 has presented its challenges during her course of study, but Maritza says the teachers and students are making it work.
“Before COVID, we alternated lecture days with lab days on campus,” she explains. “But since COVID, we started doing lab days at home along with lecture. It was different, not as hands-on. We would watch videos, use the book for procedures, and then the teachers would explain things in further detail.”
Recently, the campus reopened its labs from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.—giving her plenty of opportunity to catch up on labs missed during the shutdown.
“It will be super hands-on,” she says, excited. “No lecture. It’s us doing procedure along with the instructor there to watch, guide, and grade us. There is not a moment in lab when we aren’t doing anything—it’s such a busy day.”
In labs, students can complete procedures such as composite restoration (they practice every stage, from seating a patient to walking them out the door) or instrument sterilization. Sometimes students are scored to give them an idea of how they are doing or what needs improvement—and the teacher is always there, willing to help. Maritza’s favorite part of the program is her teacher, Ms. Sasha Czyzewski.
“She’s the greatest,” Maritza says. “She makes everything so fun. If things in lecture get a little boring, she tosses a ball to us as she asks questions to engage us, she tells us personal stories about her own career experiences, things she learned on the job.”
Martiza’s commitment, dedication, and enthusiasm—in class and out—has not gone unnoticed by her teacher, and she is an important part of the Carrington College student mentor program. To be considered for the mentor program, students must have at least a 3.0 GPA, regular class attendance, and attend mentor meetings. Mentors are especially helpful for first-term students, who are sometimes overwhelmed and benefit from the extra support and guidance of a buddy.
“I always assign Maritza to a first-term student mentee,” says Ms. Czyzewski. “She is very responsive and gets back to them right away. Often first-term students are afraid to ask questions in class or come directly to me with questions; she acts as a liaison. She’s also great at helping with tech issues. Students sort of wander to her for help—she’s a natural leader, she takes great notes, and she pays close attention. Even in her second term, she was ready to help mentor her peers.”
Maritza’s teacher also relies on her to lead other mentors in her absence, and she knows she can count on her to show up at every new student orientation.
“She sets people at ease,” Ms Czyzewski says. “She makes people feel comfortable from the get-go and has a level of dedication to her fellow students that’s rare.”
Maritza is destined to find success in a career that fits her so well; it comes naturally to her to help others feel good, be their best, and find their true smile.