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Dental-assisting students help make brighter smiles

ROP: Seven students participate in long, yet fulfilling day at Los Angeles Sports Arena, helping out

Posted: June 9, 2010 5:52 p.m.
Updated: June 9, 2010 4:55 a.m.

On Saturday, May 1, at 4:30 a.m., seven very sleepy, yet dedicated dental-assisting students in the William S. Hart Union School District's Regional Occupational Program met with me to travel to the Los Angeles Sports Arena to volunteer our time at the Remote Access Medical (RAM) Free Clinic.

The clinic was seeing approximately 1,200 people in need, each day for seven days and providing free medical, dental and vision services by volunteer professionals. Local ROP students attending were: Tracy Sanchez (Hart), Elly Flores (Hart), Gloria Castro (Saugus), Jasmin Robles (West Ranch), Kristine Andersen (Valencia), Bernadette Marquez (Bowman) and Jen Flores (Golden Valley graduate '09).

As we arrived at sunrise at the Sports Arena and received our credentials for the day, the students immediately immersed themselves ­- some working in sterilization and some immediately assisting dentists with the first patients.

Throughout the day, the students received high compliments, and a couple even received job offers by the dentists they were assisting. Flores often single-handedly ran the nine sterilizers at the same time, all on different cycles and kept the instruments coming for the hundreds of procedures done that day. Castro tried out some of the new technology in the Nomad X-ray machines in the patient triage area. Dentists would come to the sterilization area specifically seeking out class members to assist them.

The day turned out to be a 15-and-a-half-hour day! Breaks were brief ... long enough to grab a bite in the on-site "free" cafeteria. Then the students would be back to work, not once complaining nor letting anyone take their places.

At approximately 7 p.m., we left - tired but enthused. I thought they would all sleep on the way home; however, their enthusiasm for the day only served to re-energize them as they reflected on the day. Some of the drive-home comments were:

"Wow. This was so great!"

"I had so much fun helping people."

"The dentists were really nice."

"I am so going back next year!"

"We saw so many patients that needed help."

"One person I assisted with had to have 10 teeth extracted."

"They were so thankful."

"I was really doing good with the suction and passing instruments and not at all afraid."

"I felt so good about doing this."

"Thank you for taking us, Mrs. English."

"I will never forget this day!"

Pam English is an instructor with the William S. Hart Union High School District's Regional Occupational Program.


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