EIOH Congratulates Second Class of Dental Assistant Graduates

Sep. 30, 2022
Innovative Program Developed to Ease Staff Shortage
Dr. Yunker standing at the podium
Dr. Michael Yunker, a primary faculty member for the training program, addressed the graduates.

“Welcome! We’re proud to have you as members of the dental profession!” Dr. Michael Yunker said to the now-official dental assistants.

After a full year of learning how to take x-rays, handle dental materials and instruments, assist with a wide range of procedures, patient interaction and education and so much more, the dental assistant trainees graduated last night during a ceremony attended by many friends, family and co-workers.

“I absolutely loved it,” said Sanaa Wade, one of the graduates who used to work in retail. “Getting this training while getting paid was such a great opportunity.” Sanaa, who especially appreciated the hands on training, as well as learning so much from the faculty and residents from different countries, will continue working at Eastman Dental and later pursue training to become a dental hygienist.

Fellow graduate Ling Shi also plans on becoming a dental hygienist after pursuing her licensure as a dental assistant. “I loved this program, and I learned a lot.”

graduates lined up holding their diplomas
Congrats to the graduates: (l to r) Lydia Cooley, Sanaa Wade, Destinee Johnson, Tyra Robertson, Ling Shi, Jennifer Rodriguez (not shown, Martina Malu)

Jennifer Rodriguez, who was working in the manufacturing environment, was ready to try something new when she applied for the program.  She, like all the others, credits the doctors, the dental assistant leads and the other dental assistants for all the support throughout the program.  

“Everyone was so nice,” Destinee Johnson agreed. Destinee will continue working in Eastman Dental’s Howitt Urgent Care clinic, where she loves assisting with extractions and other procedures in the fast-paced environment.

“This program isn’t easy,” Dr. Hans Malmstrom, chair, General Dentistry and program director for the AEGD Residency Program, told the graduates. “You should all be very proud – it’s really quite an accomplishment.  I’m excited and look forward to working with you!”

He and Dr. Yunker, Jill Johnson, senior operations administrator for General Dentistry, and Dr. Rhadika Thakkar, one of the residents who participated significantly with teaching and mentoring the trainees, congratulated the graduates for their hard work and accomplishments and

large group of graduates faculty and staff lined up near podium
Many faculty, residents and staff worked to make the program a huge success.

thanked the families for their support during the year. Each credited by name several faculty, residents and staff members who worked closely together throughout the year to ensure the program’s success.

The other graduates included Lydia Cooley, Martina Malu and Tyra Robertson.

To address the staff shortages resulting from the pandemic, Eastman Institute for Oral Health developed the successful paid Dental Assistant Training Program, and is now accepting applications for its fourth class starting in January.

For more information, visit the Dental Assistant Training Program website.