Discovering a New Passion Through Career Training

Alyssa Davis never pictured herself working in the dental field but when she started a new job as a receptionist at a dental office, something about it appealed to her.

She enjoyed seeing the way the dental assistants worked with the dentist, and the reaction from patients when they received the care they needed. However, with no previous training in the field, she felt overwhelmed.

“I kept having all these questions,” she said. “If I had to explain something to a patient, I kept wanting to know more. I found that what all the girls were doing in the back looked interesting. I decided I wanted to do more and instead of having to Google everything, I decided to become a dental assistant.”

Alyssa searched online for a program that would give her the training she wanted. Most programs seemed too short to provide her with the deep knowledge she was craving but when she discovered the Dental Assistant program at Florida Career College in West Palm Beach, she knew it was what she needed.

“It was long enough to where I felt like I was going to get the proper education but short enough to where I could really start doing what I wanted, quick,” she said.

Right away Alyssa felt welcomed, and the hands-on curriculum drew her in. Her first class was on X-rays, and when she told her employer what she was doing after work, they gave her the opportunity to practice what she was learning.

“It felt very rewarding and good knowing they were going to work with me and I could have a future there as more than just a receptionist,” she said. “I was also a little nervous because we work on each other in the classroom but then I was jumping into working on real patients.”

Alyssa found she was able to apply each lesson right away at work. Her teacher was also a current dental assistant who was able to provide even more experience to each lesson.

“She was such an amazing student,” said Lyneshia Jernigan, Alyssa’s instructor. “She was a perfectionist. She applied herself 110 percent. She was a diamond in the rough. She was one of those students that you just know is going to be amazing. It was like she had done it before.”

Alyssa had grown up with a fear of going to the dentist and was nervous about dealing with blood and spit at first. The further she got into the program, the more those concerns all subsided. She could see patients benefitting from the service and it motivated her to keep going.

“It was so real, and it really encompassed everything, all the different areas of the dental field,” Alyssa said. “I have a passion for learning about the body and everything. It was a fast-paced but in-depth curriculum that kept me engaged.”

Alyssa had been to school before, but her university degree had never been put to good use. It was refreshing to find a purpose for her education right away.

“I had previously gone to college for a psychology degree and just didn’t really find my fit with a career,” she said. “I feel like with going through this dental assisting program, I found my purpose. It feels very rewarding.”

When it came time for her externship, Alyssa’s employer was happy to let her practice her skills in their office. At the end of her externship, she was offered a promotion and asked to work as a dental assistant in two of the company’s offices.

“It feels really good. It’s very exciting,” she said. “I never saw myself in this field, but I love it.”