July 26, 2013
The next time another dental assistant tries to one-up youby claiming she has more experience, just remember: she's no Nellie Cromwell.
The 80-year-old dental assistant has been a practicing dental professional for over 50 years. She started out as a dentist in the Philippines in 1957 after graduating from the University of East Manila. She practiced there for eight years before moving to Iowa with her American husband, whom she met while he was serving the Navy in Manila.
Because her credentials didn't transfer in America, she began working as a dental assistantand never looked back.
In 1978, she moved to Oregon and interviewed for a dental assistant position one morning at 7 am. By the time she returned home, she had a message asking her to start work right away. Over the last 35 years, she's worked for four different dentists and has been at her current position since 1990.
Dental assistants know that the physical demands of the job are heavy, but Cromwell is going strong.
“My back is strong despite all the bending and my hands are stable,” Cromwell said. “I’m starting to feel it a little in my legs but as long as Dr. Berg says it’s okay I’ll work.”
Even her coworkers, 50 years her younger, see her strength in the position. “She’s kind of amazing. She stays busy and she doesn’t have a problem keeping up,” said 29-year-old Desiree Chiaffino, Cromwell’s fellow assistant.
Cromwell has no end in sight to her professional career. “It’s kind of amazing I can still do it. At my age, not many can say that.”