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QUESTION: I am 51 years old, and I was a dental assistant back in 1991-1993. I had horrible experiences working for extremely arrogant and belligerent dentists, so I left the field and never looked back . . . until now. I decided to take an accelerated 10-week dental assisting course to refresh, reeducate, and get back in the field. I’m hoping that my life experiences will help me be successful in my second attempt at dental assisting.
I’m contacting you because I need some advice. I’m excited, but mostly terrified to go into the field again. I think it’s because of my past experiences, and also because I’ll be older than most dental assistants today. The reason I chose to go back into the field is because it’s familiar, and my husband and I are moving to Alaska. I did my research, and there is a great need for dental assistants in Alaska.
My questions to you are, will my age be a detriment in this field? and, how can I cope with my past experiences and fears as I try to reenter this field?
ANSWER FROM KEVIN HENRY,cofounder of IgniteDA:
Thank you so much for reaching out. Congratulations on getting back into the field! I know you will make an impact in Alaska. I've been to Juneau a couple of times and I know the need is great for dental assistants throughout that state.
Age is never a factor in my mind. It's more about what you know and your skills rather than the number of candles on your cake. Experience is a wonderful thing and I have no doubt you quickly picked up some things that you remembered from your first stint as a DA. Keep learning and pushing and be confident in who you are. Age is just a number. Hey, I turn 50 next month and I’m embracing it.
Regarding past experiences, I will tell you that I have been inside hundreds of offices around the US and every one of them is different. I believe that if you look for something, you're always going to find it. That means that if you expect bad experiences to happen again, they will because you'll be sensitive to them. Try to put those fears out of your mind and be open to the fact that this is a new practice and a completely new experience. I'm a big believer in looking through the windshield (to the present and future) rather than looking in the rearview mirror (the past). Don't let what happened to you before dictate your present and future success.
I wish you the best of luck and look forward to getting an update from you soon!
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