More than 20 students from American Career College-Los Angeles volunteered part of their weekend to use their skills at the Care Harbor mega-clinic this November.
In what has become a virtual annual event for ACC-Los Angeles' dental assisting department, the 25 students showed up early to find a workspace and prepare to assist volunteer healthcare workers with the hundreds of patients seen during the day.
"When students first sign up, they are nervous and scared they won’t be able to perform -- especially students that only have been in the program a couple of months. But once they get there, they thrive with all they are being able to assist and do," ACC-LA Student Services coordinator Ruthy Rodriquez said.
While working in the dental area, students perform many of the tasks they will undertake upon completing the 10-month program. Besides seating patients, the dental assisting students also check patients' health history, perform basic patient triage, take digital dental radiographs, perform patient exams and help sterilize instruments.
"Getting the interactions with live patients is very educational in putting together what they have learned in the classroom and laboratory to real-life experiences. All of the students return from the event on Monday more excited and more enthusiastic with learning," Rodriguez said.
Besides practicing many hands-on skills, Rodriquez said, one of the most valuable things the students do as volunteers is work with real dentists and learn about openings and opportunities in the dental field.
"So not only are the students learning, practicing their skills, but they are also networking within the community," Rodriquez added.
Founded in 2010, Care Harbor provides no-cost medical, dental and vision appointments to people without access to the care they need. With the help of medical volunteers from a variety of specialties, Care Harbor has helped more than 26,000 people in the Los Angeles area while providing more than 147,000 medical, dental and vision services and more than 10,000 immunizations.
"Our students truly enjoy volunteering at Care Harbor," Rodriquez said. "It has become an ACC-LA tradition for our dental department and our students look forward to volunteering anytime the help is needed."
ACC cannot guarantee employment. Programs vary by campus. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.
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