Meet Tina Hess, this month's DAD Spotlighted Assistant

Following is an interview with Tina Hess, a dental assistant from Quincy, Mich.

Why did you become a dental assistant?
I became a dental assistant because I have always enjoyed caring for others. It is very rewarding for me to know that I can make a real difference in the quality of a patient's oral health.

How did you begin your dental career?
I began my dental career working for my current boss, Dr. Rubley, two days a week -- one day assisting him and the other day helping at the front desk. It eventually grew to full time, and I became hungry for more knowledge. I wanted to make my job more of a profession. I felt the desire to become more educated to give the best possible care to all of our patients. I took the DANB exam to become a Certified Dental Assistant, and I attended Washtenaw Community College to become a Registered Dental Assistant. I am very grateful to Dr. Rubley because he helped me not only better myself with more skill and knowledge, but he allowed me to help benefit him and the good of his practice.

You attended Professional Dental Assisting 2007 in Indianapolis. Why did you go and what memories do you have of the meeting?
I was very excited to attend my first PDA Conference in Indianapolis. Since it was geared toward dental assistants, I knew I couldn't pass it up. The more knowledge we can gain to improve our skills and help play a role in the practice's success will certainly be beneficial. I have a lot of wonderful memories from the PDA Conference in Indianapolis. Not only did it leave me with a sense of understanding and a feeling of importance, but I also met many kind people and made some new friends. It was nice to share ideas and learn something from other assistants. I appreciated the friendliness as well from staff members and all of the vendors. There were also some very nice prizes handed out! If you attend the Virginia PDA Conference in April, be sure to fill out your questionnaire card and turn it in for a chance to win something good! You'll be missing out if you don't.

How are you involved in leadership and community?
Occasionally, I speak to an elementary class or an assisted living home about the importance of oral health care.

Are you especially fond of certain dental equipment?
No, there is a lot of nice dental equipment out there.

What is your most prized accomplishment?
One of my most prized accomplishments would have to be making it through my dental education alive! Right after I registered for classes at Washtenaw Community College, our home that had been on the market for three years finally sold. I was working full time, packing, moving, building a new home, and taking Internet college courses, all at the same time! I can't tell you how many times I lost my nearly completed homework! It all became very stressful. I know my husband wanted to knock me over the head a few times, but we made it through, and I had something to be proud of!

What are your goals?
My goals are to someday own a horse and learn to play the drums! But don't tell my husband that! He doesn't want either one. On a professional level, I plan to continue educating myself, strive to give every patient that comes into our office a great and comfortable experience, stay committed, help teach and inspire others in the dental program, and educate those who have less knowledge or access to dental care. Even a simple smile is sometimes worth a thousand words!

What do you do for fun?
I really enjoy spending time with my family and very close friends. I especially love playing with my Australian Shepherd puppy, Kanga, and teaching him new things. He is a blast and so very smart! We lost our previous Aussie after almost 16 years. Kanga is a true blessing in our lives. We plan to begin with agility and herding lessons this spring.

What are your hobbies?
My hobbies include nearly any type of exercise. I love taking walks through our woods with Kanga, and I enjoy kayaking, drawing, and playing my guitar.

Do you have any advice for someone who is considering a dental assisting career?
Don't be afraid to try new things and never use the words I can't. Tell yourself I can and you will succeed. Educate yourself! This is your life and not anyone else's. It is your opportunity to shine and to make yourself proud of who you are and what you have accomplished. Go for it! You can do it!

If you could spend an hour with one person, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
I'm not sure it's possible for me to narrow this down to one person. Here they are in no particular order. First of all, it would be exciting to me to spend time with The Dog Whisper and The Horse Whisper. To know what they know and to train the way they do would be very inspiring to me. Second, I would like to have met the Righteous Brothers. I enjoy their music and I would love to learn from their expertise. Third is my Uncle Buzz, who is very knowledgeable. He makes me think in ways I never thought of. He is an amazing person that I think the world of! Last, but not least, is my wonderful mom, whom is a very giving woman. All my life she has always done for others but never for herself. She is the best mom and friend anyone could ever ask for. She definitely deserves all the happiness in the world. She is a true blessing to me, and I love her deeply.

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be and why?
Stranded on a private tropical island with Patrick Dempsey! That is, with my husband, of course. Actually, I truly enjoy spending time in my cozy home nestled in the woods in the small town of Quincy just watching the wildlife pass by and hearing the birds sing. One time we walked into our barn and found a snapping turtle about 18 inches long. Tell me that wouldn't startle you! I had never seen one up close. I would really enjoy traveling around the world, going to tropical islands to sightsee, horseback ride and snorkel, but, of course, if we did I would want to take Kanga, with us! He is to me what a credit card is to other women. I don't want to leave home without him!

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