OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Jami Smith and Chyna Long have a passion for being dental assistants, crediting the career for changing their lives.
"I was a single mother. I knew I wanted to have a great career and I knew I wanted to help people. So when I got into the dental assisting field just that face to face interaction with people, just knowing I helped someone, knowing I gave someone this smile, knowing I made them feel comfortable in that chair, it put something in my heart knowing this was going to be for me," Long said.
The two longtime dental assistants also realized there was a gap in their field, something that became even more evident during the pandemic.
"With covid, a lot of dental assistants walked off their job. People did not want to deal directly with the oral cavity. There were no dental assistants, we needed help," Smith said.
So, they created their own program. Dental Assistant Education Center is now enrolling students into their 15-week program. They say their program stands out from the others. Long says one reason is that they themselves have been in the field for years.
The two say they're setting their students up for success.
"You will know how to build healthy patient relationships, you’ll learn the clinical experience," Smith said. "You’ll learn infection control, you’ll learn your CPR certification, x-ray certification. We’ll teach you how to assist that doctor from beginning to end you’ll set up procedures learn OSHA requirements and we’ll teach you a bit of front desk experience as well."
The program is also run out of an actual dental practice, Anding Family Dental, unlike many other programs. Smith and Long say they didn't want their students to sit in a classroom all day, but instead get hands-on, real-life experience.
Not only are they making dental assistants but they're making history. Dental Assistant Education Center is the first Black-owned dental assisting program in Omaha. While they now think it's amazing, they didn't set out to make history, they didn't even realize until after people pointed it out.
"I’m super, super stoked this is a big movement. It's huge and I can’t wait," Long said.
"We were just doing what we love and to know we’re the first Black-owned dental school, it makes us push even harder and hopefully we give individuals of our color motivation that you can do whatever you want to do," Smith said.
Dental Assistant Education Center is now enrolling students, you can learn more at their website.