Helping those who need help the most

Oct. 24, 2011
Tija Hunter, CDA, EFDA, gives details about the Free Day of Dentistry in which she recently participated. Dental assisting students from Missouri College played a large role in the success of the event.
By Tija Hunter, CDA, EFDAOn September 30, my office held its first annual “Free Day of Dentistry.” When I say “my office,” I mean that we were the event organizers. It takes lots of people to tackle something like this. We had many volunteers — from doctors, to hygienists, to assistants, to front office people. Each one was a valuable part of the team.
I especially want to mention the dental assisting students from Missouri College. These student volunteers jumped right in and worked all day. They handled everything from sterilization to assisting to set up and clean up and getting patients in the necessary rooms ... you name it. Two of their instructors came with them and were equally important. (I’m proud to say I am an alumna of this first-class institution.) I can’t begin to tell you how awesome this event was. At the end of the day, the volunteers walked out exhausted and felt like they had been beaten to death. But it was worth every sore muscle!
Our day that started at 4 a.m. with preparations was a full one. The doors opened at 8 a.m. and were to close at 4 p.m. However, at 3:30 we could see the end of the line and the people who desperately wanted to be seen. Our team of volunteers decided they would stay until the end, which they did. We saw 206 patients that day. Way to go, team!
Every person who came through that door had a story to tell, and some were just heart wrenching to hear. Every one of them was grateful for the people who helped them. On Monday of the next week, several gifts were delivered to the office by some of the people whose lives were changed by the kindness of strangers. Our dental world is amazing, full of generous and kind people. The students and instructors of Missouri College who don’t know us had no reason to give as much as they did, but they went out of their way to make this event successful, even staying past the cut-off time until the very end! A big thank you goes out to all of the volunteers. And I want to give a special thank you to the dental assisting students of Missouri College. Assistants are an important part of any dental team, and these students showed they’ve got what it takes to be valuable team members. They showed initiative, drive, and exceptional calm under pressure. Our success that day was possible because of them. Dental assisting students of Missouri College, you rock! These students and all of us got an incredible opportunity to experience giving firsthand. What a great feeling to help so many people. Author bioTija Hunter, CDA, EFDA, is a 1981 graduate of the Missouri School for Doctors’ Assistants and has 30 years’ chairside experience. She is currently the office manager/assistant to Eric Hurtte, DMD. She is a member of the ADAA and the founder of the Dental Assistants Study Club of St. Louis. She is an independent consultant specializing in assistant training, team building, and office organization. She can be reached at [email protected] or find her on Facebook.