Diving Deeper Into Dentistry: Dental Assisting Graduate Jackie Salamanca Graduates With a Second Degree in Dental Hygiene

Dental Assisting Graduate Jackie Salamanca24-year-old Jackie Salamanca has a passion: dentistry. She also has a dream that is about to come true: having already graduated from Carrington College’s Dental Assisting program, she recently completed her studies from the Dental Hygiene program at Carrington College’s Mesa campus. With the assistance of Carrington College’s Service Advisors, she will begin to research potential work in the area and participate in Carrington College’s Lunch and Learn program, which introduces graduates to corporate dental companies who are hiring.

Jackie is on her way to a career in the dental field with the skills that allow her to work at a level she has always dreamed of doing: being a true provider of care and healing for each patient, watching their progress over time and supporting them in the process. When asked what’s next for this goal-oriented lover of teeth, Jackie says, “I don’t know – I just want to dive into the work and see how it goes.”

Tell me about yourself.

I was born and raised in the Casa Grande area of Arizona; about an hour south of Carrington College’s Mesa campus. My parents are both Hispanic. I have three sisters and a twin brother, who does Pharmacy research.

When did you become interested in dentistry?

When I was younger and went to get my braces, I got interested in it. I had to go back every month for them to check on my progress, which fascinated me. Around high school I learned about Carrington College’s dental programs in Mesa. I wanted to be a Hygienist, but they recommended I start with the Dental Assisting program first.

What would you say are the strengths of the programs?

I like how they prepare you for successful studying – they give you a breakdown of what you need to know, it’s very lined out and planned. If you just stay the course and do the work you will succeed.

What’ s the difference between Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene?

Dental Assisting is learning what the instruments are – could be for dental or orthodontic exams.  It’s learning about and assisting in the environment you’re working in. Dental Hygiene is performing the hygiene on the patient, being a provider for the patient, like helping to heal gum disease, for example. Dental Hygiene is a little tougher, though, there’s more to it, like anesthesia…Dental Hygiene takes a while longer to finish the degree; but this has been my dream. I love it so much.

You really do!

I just love teeth – I have a lot of models of teeth in my room, like plastic models they use to teach kids.

Has there been a time you’ve struggled while you were going to school?

Well, I always struggled with the work/life balance.  I commuted two hours a day and I had a night job in a grocery store to pay for school.

What advice would you give to a potential student interested in going into the Dental field?

I’d say be absolutely sure you’re all in for it. That it’s really what you want to do so your motivation and focus are strong. You can make it if you have the motivation.

Is there anyone at Carrington College you’d like thank for helping you during your school years?

Yes, I was very lucky that Becky Hatten, who works in Career Services, was with me getting through both degrees. She worked with me while I was in the Dental Assisting program. Then she moved to the Dental Hygiene department after I graduated from Dental Assisting. I am lucky to keep working with her now to help me find a job after I graduate from the Dental Hygiene program.

Sounds like you are set to have a great career in dentistry! I hope you’ll keep learning and diving deeper.

Thank you.

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