I am a Patient Care Coordinator in the Dental Field. Patient Care Coordinators are patient advocates who generally have experience working in a dentistry office as assistants or hold a qualifying Bachelor’s Degree and/or Master’s Degree.
Because dental patient care coordinators often perform duties as a dental assistant as well, the education requirements for this career is very similar. Patient Care Coordinators should still complete dental assistant training and need to hold the same certifications and/or licenses to work in dentistry offices. Some of my duties include:
- Spending time getting to know the patient and learning about their specific dental needs and goals
- Supporting the dental patient throughout the process and welcoming new patients.
- Patient Care Coordinators may conduct diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, and work with the dentist to organize a comprehensive treatment plan, Depending on the dentist’s evaluation,
- Follow-up consultations with the patients may be needed, to which I usually conduct via a phone call
- Present the treatment plan, determine insurance calculations and copay estimates
- Discuss financial options and be available to answer any questions.
TANF (Temporary Assistance For Needy Families) “Welfare” provided child care to a recipient who receives benefits as long as they were employed at least 30 hours per week or enrolled in college or a training program paid for by the state. Since I was offered a position working clerical in my childhood Optometrist “eye doctor’s” office, I qualified for assistance. After a while, life decisions and not showing an interest in the field lead me in another direction. I headed back to TANF. I thoroughly looked at the options presented to me and I chose the Dental Assistant Program.
I completed the program and it was time to find an office to start and complete my externship. Although, the school I attended would help you secure an externship, I wanted to be proactive. I was determined to succeed. I went to East Orange Public Library and created a resume. I printed 20 copies. I went on Google and searched dentist offices in “good neighbors” because in my mind that’s where the good pay rates could be found. Since I’d be commuting via public transportation I wanted to visit office buildings with multiple dentists. One, so I can utilize my time wisely and Two, so that I would have a better chance at securing an externship. I printed multiples pages with addresses and went on my way. The first town I visited was Millburn, NJ. Although it is only 6 stops away from my home town via the NJTRANSIT Morris & Essex train line, it was my first time visiting the city.
Inner city children rarely leave their hometown. They often times become products of their an environment and rarely venture outside of “what they know.”
I visited each and every office in the building and introduced myself. I asked if the offices were accepting externs. They all said NO. I asked if I could leave my resume for the near future in case something changes. I started from the beginning and worked my way all the way down until I reached the end. I continued to hear No after No. After leaving the building, I didn’t feel discouraged. I was proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and taking a chance. I felt even more determined. I crossed those offices off my list and planned to repeat the process the next day. Ironically, it was the last office in the building that called me a few days later informing me that the dentist had decided to allow me to do an extern.
From the day that I started I was eager to learn everything that I could. I put my skills on display each and every day. After completing my externship, the office was impressed with my work ethic so much that they offered me a part-time position. Of course, I accepted without any hesitation. What made me so unique is that I always went the “extra mile.” The program instructor during my attendance at Quality Dental School of Technology was Mr. Lee. He prepared all of his students and gave us advice that would follow us into the Dental Field. After completing my regular job responsibility as a Dental Assistant in the back office, I would hang around the front desk area. I always asked the office Manager if she needed help with anything. I would ask questions about insurance, filing, scheduling appointments, etc. My goal was to impress them so much so they would see how much of an asset I would be to their practice.
As a Dental Assistant in NJ, you are required by Law to enroll, study and pass the Dental Radiology Course. It’s usually a 9 Week Course that prepares you to sit for the Radiation Health and Safety Exam to obtain your Dental Radiography License from DANB. The license permits you to take X-Rays. I was still receiving TANF at the time and they also paid for me to attend the Dental Radiology Course at Dental Studies Institute. TANF even provided a uniform allowance and a Bus Card.
The rest is history. I started out as an unpaid intern but experience is worth more than pay to me. You are building your resume. My favorite saying is “Fair exchange is not robbery.” I am a big fan of “working interviews.” Your resume could be immaculate, or your printer may not have been working and it came out mis-printed. You could have been nervous and stumbled upon your words. Maybe you drank coffee while in the waiting room and spilled it on your white blouse. I always close any interview with presenting the Interviewer with a Working Interview so that I can display my skills and my capability. I’ve since advanced in my Career. I’ve worked in Millburn, Union, Jersey City, Piscataway, Hoboken and Montclair as a Dental Assistant and Dental Receptionist. I’ve worked in General Dentistry, Oral Surgery and Periodontics.
I provide patient education and I have a strong background in this field which makes me a valuable asset to any practice. As an African-American female my with my history I feel accomplished. Although I do feel an “invisible spotlight” shown on me if you know what I mean. I just carry myself in such a way that the light couldn’t blind me, it’ll just brighten me!
I intend to keep enhancing my skills and advance much further. I pride myself on being a Hardworking Woman. I’m sharing my story because I am Just Like You… I Am Every Woman.
Perseverance and strength of character will enable us to bear much worse things.
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
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