Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A career path in dentistry shines bright for Shania Jones

Shania Jones has received an invaluable education in general dentistry. (Courtesy photo)
There are two defining moments in Shania Jones’ life that she will never forget: the day she enrolled in a registered dental assistant (RDA) training program at the Interfaith Education Center for Community Dental Care (the educational arm of the nonprofit Interfaith Dental Clinic), and the day she graduated with a diploma.
Jones was 18 when she started the 32-week, full-time training program on Oct. 8, 2015. She graduated June 22 with invaluable experience in general dentistry, as well as experience in endodontics, IV sedation, and oral surgery.
I wanted to make a change in my life and thought it could be something I really liked,” said Jones, who, prior to her life-changing experience, worked two part-time jobs at Wendy's and as an intern at The Housing Authorities.
Change was a foregone conclusion when Jones looked back over the vicissitudes of her life and decided that a career in dentistry would be the course she’d take going forward. Looking back, however, was a reminder of how far she’d come before making the most important decision of her life.
There were many challenges, said Jones, who was bounced from house to house, state to state during her adolescent years, which led to unwelcomed family discord and, as a result, caused uneasiness and middle school angst.
“When I was 16, I lived in Gary, Ind., with my dad for a few years. Then I moved to Tennessee to live with my mom when I was 17,” said Jones, who graduated from Holloway High School in Murfreesboro in 2014.
“My mom used to tell me when I was small that I already had two strikes against me; and that I was going to have to work harder than anyone else. Those two strikes are being a woman and being an African-American woman,” said Jones, who has a maternal sister and two brothers, as well as paternal siblings.
Those enduring words kept Jones focused on the life-lessons that her mother instilled in her during her upbringing. “I'm grateful for all my struggles and challenges,” she said. “It did nothing but make me the stronger person I am today.”
The struggles of the past ended for Jones and new challenges began after she took a leap of faith and landed squarely in the comprehensive dental training program, which would define who she is today and the career she’s chosen.
Being a student in the registered dental assistant program was a “joyful” experience, said Jones, crediting her instructors and staff for shaping her newly found career. “It's an environment that's hard not to be joyful.”
The classroom environment, she added, underscored the joy she felt when “helping out each other like a team, helping patients who desperately needed the help…and learning SO many new things every single day.”
“They say if you love your job, it's like not even working when you are doing something you love,” said Jones, who benefited from the small classroom and the one-on-one attention she received from her instructor and RDA trainer.
“I loved the hands-on directly with patients and the other doctor, who I thought was good for me,” she said. “I never imagined myself with a RDA career. I'll have it for the rest of my life.”
But dentistry wasn’t even Jones’ first love. It was music.
That's all I ever thought about doing in my life,” she said. “I never thought about going back to school to be a RDA. I had a big passion for music. That was where my focus was.”
Now Jones is focused on brightening smiles. “I prefer working in a oral surgery office,” she said. “I love extractions and all that good stuff. It's very interesting to me.”

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