Class of 2022: Service and management brings dental hygiene pupil out of her shell – VCU Information

Delly Bezoss

Turning into president of the VCU Scholar Chapter of the American Dental Hygienists Affiliation (SCADHA) was not one thing Samantha Smith had in thoughts when she was accepted into the Dental Hygiene program at VCU School of Dentistry in 2020. However, within the final two years, this self-described “introvert instances one million” has coordinated quite a few neighborhood service occasions at native elementary faculties, organized fundraisers and even administered COVID-19 vaccinations as a part of the VCU Vaccine Corps.

“I grew up in Dinwiddie, Virginia. It’s tremendous rural and there was actually one dentist,” stated Smith, who graduates in Could with a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene and has already landed a job at a dental apply in Chester, Virginia. “I spent lots of time in orthodontics as a child, and from the time I used to be eight till I used to be 16 I used to be useless set on being an orthodontist. After which I took chemistry in highschool and wasn’t so certain!”

Throughout her freshman 12 months of faculty on the College of Mary Washington, Smith determined to pursue a level in dental hygiene. She wished to finish her bachelor’s diploma and keep in state, so her choices had been VCU or Previous Dominion College. It was her childhood need to focus on orthodontics that drove her to VCU.

“VCU has an orthodontic clinic, they’ve a Periodontics Division, they’ve all of those specialties that I wouldn’t get to expertise elsewhere,” Smith stated.

Smith utilized and was accepted. Nonetheless, the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing as she entered her first semester.

“Most of our early programs had been digital, and our entry into the clinic was scary,” Smith stated. “We had a requirement to see 10 sufferers by the top of February, however everybody was cancelling. It was arduous, however I believe it additionally made our class nearer as a result of we might at all times assist one another out by referring sufferers if somebody had a cancellation.”

As COVID-19 vaccines turned out there, Smith was one in every of greater than 1,500 VCU college students pursuing a level in well being care who signed as much as administer vaccines to the general public via the VCU Vaccine Corps.

“Being a part of the VCU Vaccine Corps was a spotlight of my dental hygiene expertise. It was earlier than we had our native anesthesia lab [course] so I’d by no means dealt with a needle,” Smith stated. “We took an internet course after which obtained coaching from volunteers on the Faculty of Nursing. It was fully hands-on; they confirmed us precisely what to do.”

Samantha smith standing in a dental room with two other people
Samantha Smith, a graduating B.S. in Dental Hygiene pupil at VCU Faculty of Dentistry, has coordinated neighborhood service occasions with grade faculties all through the area, together with Tussing Elementary in Colonial Heights. She was additionally one in every of hundreds of VCU college students who volunteered to manage vaccinations via the VCU Vaccine Corps in 2021. (Courtesy Samantha Smith)

Smith volunteered and vaccinated folks at occasions on the Monroe Park Campus and at Virginia State College.

“Vaccinations aren’t a part of a dental hygienist’s tasks, so it was a very cool expertise entering into that position,” she stated.

As Smith approached her last semester, officers had been being chosen for pupil management positions within the Scholar Chapter of the American Dental Hygienists Affiliation.

“Our class had a bunch chat and everyone felt like that they had an excessive amount of happening to be SCADHA president, so I used to be like, you recognize what, I’m simply going to do it,” Smith stated. “I had by no means been in a management place earlier than, and I used to be actually nervous.”

Smith determined to deal with neighborhood engagement. She labored along with her classmates on the affiliation’s neighborhood service committee, they usually started participating with native elementary faculties.

“We began by volunteering at a Head Begin Block Get together and giving out free oral hygiene provides and informational supplies,” Smith stated. “Then we began going into the colleges and interesting straight with the scholars.”

Smith and her classmates went into school rooms and talked with the scholars in regards to the significance of wholesome consuming and which sorts of meals and drinks may cause cavities. They supplied demonstrations on brushing and flossing and gave the scholars goodie luggage with oral hygiene provides on the finish of the day. She estimates that they served a number of hundred college students all year long.

“It was enjoyable and difficult working with the children, however it was at all times actually rewarding,” Smith stated.

Smith continued to interact in pupil management committees and took part in occasions with the Virginia Dental Hygiene Affiliation. The extra she stepped out of her consolation zone, the extra comfy she turned.

“I’ve at all times most well-liked being alone, however I’ve realized to develop into extra outgoing after I must be. I’ve develop into extra assured in management roles, and it’s undoubtedly helped with issues like skilled networking.”

Smith has no plans to take a break after commencement; she’s wanting ahead to getting proper to work.

“The dental apply I’ll be working for is far greater and extra complete than the one I grew up going to in Dinwiddie,” stated Smith, who remains to be desirous about participating in additional specialised features of dentistry. “They place implants and do lots of prosthodontics in-house, so I’m actually enthusiastic about observing and studying whereas I work.”

Smith has plans to proceed her schooling. She hopes to work and lower your expenses with a view to pursue a grasp’s diploma within the subsequent few years.

“If I’m going again to high school, I need it to be at VCU,” Smith stated. “I like the college, and I like Richmond. I can see myself transferring again into town and staying long run.”