I started out as a dental assistant at 19, then became an instructor, and was promoted to a program director before opening my own teaching program in 2000. I work part time at a community college and teach my dental auxiliary courses on the weekends. In that way, I have an extensive background of practice, reflection, observation, and application that is connected to my job. Since I really have two jobs -- dentistry and teaching -- and the essay wishes me to employ just one, I will focus on the overarching one: dentistry.
Note that these four terms - practice, reflection, observation, and application - represent those used by David Kolb's experiential learning theory and indeed my essay format will be designed according to Kolb's theory so as to best illustrate the contributions of experience to my dentistry background.
Kolb considers experience a source of learning and cites four elements that contribute to experiential learning. These are: Concrete experience (doing); Reflective observation (observing); Abstract conceptualization (thinking, generalization); and Active experimentation (planning, testing and application). The essay will connect my experience to each of these four phases in turn.
Concrete experience (doing)
This is where the learner actively experiences the activity.
My dental experience has been the following:
San Jose City College (Feb. 2010- present). I function as Adjunct Instructor where I demonstrate skill procedures of dentistry, develop lesson plans, and present lectures/presentation. At the same time, I supervise the clinic with rotating groups. I also supervise the student's small group during their contact with patients. Finally, I evaluate student performance, Dental Radiation Safety and Techniques, Coronal Polish, Pit and Fissure Sealant.
Dental Specialties Institute, Inc.: (May 2000- present). I am the President and founder of this school. It is a private Postsecondary School where I work as the DBC, DANB CE provider. I instruct (namely work in lecture and lab) Dental Radiation Safety and Techniques, Coronal Polish, Pit and Fissure Sealant, and Ultrasonic Scaling State Board courses. My responsibilities include training and supervising instructors as well as preparing lectures and reviewing guidelines for future courses to be incorporated in the program.
El Camino Hospital: (2000-2001) I worked as BLS & First Aid Instructor
Corinthian College: (1992-1999) I gained practical experience in my role of Program Director/Instructor where I supervised the dental assisting program; Administration, Instruction-Classroom, Instruction- Lab and Student Advising.
Cupertino Dental Group: (1999- 2006) I served as head Registered Dental Assistant with Extended Functions. Duties included being Chairside assistant in cosmetic and general dentistry for Dr. Kenneth Frangadakis, DDS. I was also involved in Staff educational training and had front office duties.
Tooth Fairy Systems: (1997) I was both RDA Written Review Lecturer and RDA practical review Instructor
My practical experience in dentistry has extended to volunteer activities and these have been the following:
CADAT (California Association of Dental Assisting Teachers) where I officiated on the CADAT Board of Directors Panel ( 2010 -- 2012); stood on the Corporate Relations Council (2011-2012) as well as on the Communications Council (2010-2011) and was involved in the Publications & Website Committee (2010-2011) .
Dental Board of California Task force -- I helped formulate the written exam project: RDAEF-II (2009) for dentistry. In the same year I volunteered in the Dental Specialties Institute Inc. -- where I helped create the California state auxiliary certification course structure, content, updates and COMDA / dental board documentation submission for approval of radiation health and safety, coronal polishing, pit and fissure sealant, and ultrasonic scaling courses. I am involved in this work voluntarily still today.
Finally, I worked and still work in the American Red Cross as volunteer for the Santa Clara Valley Chapter
Reflective observation (observing)
This is Kolb's second stage where the learner consciously reflects back on that experience.
Dentistry has always been a part of my life. Even when involved in the work of today I see how it can contribute to the heath and, in a certain way, to the esteem of people. Reflecting on my learning experience, I realize how important it is that people be made to feel at ease first before they have their teeth seen to. So many people think dentistry a dull job and have to be cajoled to have their teeth serviced. Yet, dentistry is every bit as important as medical work.
People have told me that I am courageous for entering the field. I don't see it as such. I find it an enduring learning experience that can give much too many people.
I have learned a lot in my years as practicing dentist. One of the things that I have learned is that hygiene in all aspects of my work is excruciatingly important. Germs can get passed around through deficient dental hygiene too -- through the work that I do, through what I touch, through patients transmitting their germs to another simply because I fail to take optimum preventions. This aspect of dental hygiene is insufficiently known. I think that we should be more aware of it.
When first entering dental school, I was surprised at the requirement that students possess social skills. However, the more time that elapses in my business, the more necessary I see it to be that I possess people skills. In this way (as pointed out later), dental vocation extends to so much more than teeth. People are petrified of the dentist -- some may equate him with he gladiators of the old. There is not a day that does not pass that I learn some sort of technique about how to pacify the squirming patient in the dentist chair. And this is not just the child. I have learned to enter the patient's frame of reference as best as I can. Imagining myself to be the patient who is having an invader enter an intimate parte of her body helped me better emphasize with her. I try to keep this image in mind much of the time, and I find that it helps me work better with people as well as become more patient.
Another aspect of the work that I would not have realized at one time is the business skills that I learn. I have learned many things, but to me lean management is the most important. This is something that I have learned on the job: to be organized and to focus on that which is most crucial to my work., In this way, I learn to organize my time in a way that each and every component of it is strictly related to my work. I equip my inventory with items that are referential to the work and attempt to ensure that least wastage occurs not only in expense items but also in terms of time and in the duties that I do. As elaboration, I have learned to refer work that another can do to another person whilst I focus only on the work that moves me closer to my goal, that promotes my career, and that acts as my specialization.
Principals of lean management have proved invaluable to me in my work; they prohibit me form distraction.
Critical thinking too is a great part of dentistry. I have to be on the go the whole time as to which mode of teaching is best for my students; how to best attract them and patients; whether this style of learning or practice is best or whether I should assume another. Dentistry is a far more complex field than I ever imagined it to be.
Much of my learning comes from patients and colleagues, but much too comes from my membership in related associations such as in the Santa Clara Dental Society and as Continuing Educational Provider where I am certified as both Dental Board of California CE Provider (#3794) and Dental Assisting National Board CE provider.
The best model that I can give for my learning experience is that of Feigenbaum's system where he addresses each and every one of the steps of quality management; it is otherwise called Total Quality Control or Total Quality Management and I choose that as my model of what I have earned / am learning since I realize that in order to succeed I need to have the principles of TQM absorb every aspect of my practice / teaching / management control.
The principles of TQM integrate economics, management, and organizational principles that culminate in sound leadership and management techniques. This is a manifestation of systems effects -- in other words, that all components of the business are linked and need to be equitably managed for each to seamlessly link together and flow smoothly. I wear so many different 'hat's (or dental aprons) that I have to ensure that I am organized and effective in each part of them.
This is another influential concept of TQM relevant to my work which is economic accountability which stresses that poor performance has a poor cost impact. I have learned that thorough…