I am young, talented, gifted and extraordinarily beautiful. Dental assisting is my professional choice where I live in North Carolina. Living in North Carolina is a privilege since the State has an estimated growing population of 9,968,930 according to 2013 United States Census bureau figures (US Census Bureau, 2013). There is a median household income of $44,670 annually and a dominant English speaking population of 90% English and 6% Spanish. Therefore, while there is cultural diversity it does not impact greatly on language expression (US Census Bureau, 2013).
When further, evaluation of North Carolina is projected 58.5% of the population were born in the State; 33.1% in other states, 1.0% in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin islands, or to American parent(s) living abroad, and 7.4% migrated from another country. More importantly, 68% of the population is non-Hispanic white; 21 black on African American; 8.4% Latino or Hispanic; Asian 2% and 7% Native or unspecific ethnicity (US Census Bureau, 2013).
This is what makes my contribution to North Carolina as a Dental Assistant so important. The population’s social background needs young people who can teach the importance of dental hygiene to a wide cross section of people. As such, I engaged in a number of activities within my community trying to learn more about the people I grew up and among. One very important activity was conducted within my school environment becoming the class president. The role of a president is unique. Within this function the individual gets an opportunity to express leadership qualities. As a leader one must be willing to compromise as well as being articulate enough to show authority without being autocratic. This was a very rewarding experience laying the foundation for contributions I intend to make towards the growth in dentistry of North Carolina in the future.
Next it was volunteering for Mission of Mercy clinic in Dare County North Carolina. This clinic offers free dental assistance to adults within the community during a fall program every year. Even though the clinic lasts only two days the response is overwhelming, which is indicative of the community’s need for more accessible dental care. In this setting I was able to estimate the impact of my work as a dental assistant in North Carolina.
SHAC clinic at University of North Carolina is another venue where I volunteered. There are dental services offered by this clinic better described as Dental SHAC, which is a free, student-run clinic. The challenge encountered is that with the volume of patients to be seen and the time it takes for one patient to be evaluated many have to be turned away daily. Cleanings, screening, extractions and fillings are some of the services offered to the community through a lottery allocation process. Here again during my duties the need for adequate dental services within the community became more obvious to me.
St. Thomas Latino Health Fair in Chapel Hill, North Carolina presented a wealth of experiences. This fair even though caters mainly to the Latino community’s health, embrace a number of services including dental hygiene and screening. I was exposed to many dental screening techniques and was able to interpret how poor dental care and ill health are inter-related. More importantly, it is when I realized how valuable my role could be in helping people improve their health through proper dental hygiene.
Another very valuable experience came when I also volunteered during my Christmas break in the Oral Surgery clinic at University of North Carolina. It was an effort to gain experience since I wanted to further my education in the dental assisting. This is an academically based School of Dentistry being associated with Department of Surgery at the UNC School of Medicine. Operations are conducted mainly within the University of North Carolina Hospitals’ environment. Other hospitals to which this program is affiliated include the Veterans Administration Hospital in Durham and Mission Hospitals in Asheville, NC
These activities helped me realize that as a child these services were not accessible to me. I could not remember ever going to the dentist or even having a tooth brush. Maybe, it was because dental services could have been only accessed by the rich people because poor people had no insurance to help them receive dental care. With health care as costly as it is today many people including the elderly cannot afford dental care, especially, when they need dentures.
Therefore, it is my desire when I graduate to address this need in my community. It would take education as well as lobbying for better dental insurance. Education alone without the ability to access services is useless. Learning the importance of dental hygiene is a great step forward. However, from my experience interacting with the public during these activities more has to be done regarding dental care in North Carolina.
I can begin where I am. It is my goal to sensitize the community regarding the importance of starting dental hygiene during childhood so that there would be less dental problems. Also, by me organizing community action the issue of affordable dental care could be resolved within North Carolina geographic location.
US Census Bureau. North Carolina Population Census. 2013. Print.