In this Alumni Spotlight we caught up with Lindsay Gatling, graduate of the Dental Assistant program who currently is employed at Cohil Family Dentistry in Apopka, Florida.
What where you doing prior to enrollment? What made you enroll in school?
Prior to enrollment I had my Childhood Development Associate certification and had been teaching for several years at a preschool and I was also nannying to help boost my income. After some major life events I decided to move back to Pennsylvania with my family for one year and during that time decide what to do about returning to school to have a career that would provide better pay and full time hours for myself. At 30 years old, four year or even two year schools felt very overwhelming, would take too long to complete, and would require “core classes” that weren’t necessarily pertinent to a chosen field and decided to look into GLIT. I researched the programs that were offered and after touring the school decided the dental assisting program would allow me the training I needed to start a new career in a reasonable time frame. I’d always had a slight obsession with people’s teeth and thought it could be a really great fit for me.
Where have you worked since you graduated and where do you currently work? What is your title?
I am currently working at Cohil Family Dentistry in Apopka, Florida as a Dental Assistant.
What types of things do you do there day to day?
Day to day I greet and seat patients, take x-rays, do charting, set up for procedures, sterilize instruments, keep the office clean, take inventory and do ordering for the office. I keep track of lab cases, take impressions, pour and trim models, make retainers and bleaching trays, and clean and flip rooms following procedures. We do everything from crown and bridge work, orthodontic clear aligners, Zoom whitening, extractions, dentures and partials, implants, to root canals, so our daily schedule never looks the same.
What do you like about your career?
I believe a healthy, bright, beautiful smile sparks confidence so I really love it when we can give that to someone and not only transform the way they look to others, but how they see themselves. I really enjoy connecting with people and offering reassurance or comfort to them when they’re uncertain or even afraid of work they need done. I really love assisting with extractions and doing our in office whitening, those are definitely my favorites!
What did you like most about Great Lakes?
I really liked that in a short time I was perfectly equipped to begin a brand new career and that the schooling was focused solely on the program I was interested in. I was so discouraged at the thought of returning to a two or four year college where I would have to take a lot of time and fumble through (and pay for) required courses that had nothing to do with the future career I desired. The hours were perfect for being able to work full time and still go to school and the small class sizes meant we all had individual attention and help from our instructors. I absolutely loved learning from the instructors, they all had such a passion for helping us and wanted to see us succeed.
What are your career goals for the future?
I’ve only worked as a chair side assistant so I would like to take the next year and do more in an administrative capacity- handling insurance and putting together treatment plans, etc. I’ve also been thinking of learning Spanish as it would be a great contribution in my current office or wherever I end up working in the future.
What advice can you give current students and new graduates that can help them be successful?
It will be harder than you thought, but stick with it!! You have to be disciplined and really make school your top priority but it is so worth it! I worked full time and was a single parent when I was in school. I studied and did my homework while I was at work, made flash cards, and stayed up late to get work done, but I was 100% committed to graduating and starting something new for myself. Our program director, Calista had us fill out cards one of the first days we were in class describing our reasons for starting school and what our goals were, which was such a good reminder when I felt overwhelmed or uncertain if I could really do it. Focus on your “why”, and celebrate each time you finish a term, pass a test, or complete a lab- take those small victories and use them as stepping stones to get to your end goal of a fresh start, a new career.