An Interview With A Male Dental Assistant

Ken has never been overly concerned about stereotypes. He has not lived his life trying to conform, so as to blend in with society’s expectations.

Ken was not from a background where such things were pushed on him either. Ken was raised believing that he could be whatever he wanted to be when he grew up. Ken is now a dental assistant. He will tell you why.

How did you decide on dental assisting as your career?

KEN: Actually, for most of high school I believed that I was going to be a nurse. Working with people like that, and being part of alleviating suffering, or just helping somebody feel good, has always appealed to me. When I was a kid, and went to the doctor, there was a male nurse who I got to see once in awhile. I always thought that was really cool, and I started wanting to do that.

How was it, then, that your attention was turned to dental assisting?

KEN: Actually, I came across an article in the dentist’s waiting room about a male assistant. For some time I had entertained being a dentist too, just because it seemed like a really complex field, and so I thought it would always be interesting. The article made me see that being a dentist assistant could fulfill a lot of the same career desires for me.

How did you decide to be a dentist’s assistant instead of a dentist?

KEN: Being young, I was sort of intimidated by the commitment of the educational requirements to be a dentist, but I definitely felt that I had what it took to be a dental assistant, even though I chose it at a young age. It also seemed like an awesome way of finding out how much I liked being in dentistry. It was a win-win for me. I can always become a dentist, when I feel more ready to commit to the education.

How do you feel your experience differs from the female assistants?

KEN: For one thing, I’m in an office with mostly females. I feel that my male presence is often appreciated because I often get asked to do things that the female assistants can’t easily get done. And even if sometimes it’s as simple as lifting or reaching something, I do feel valued, which is one of the best parts of any job.

Also, I get the feeling that I may contribute to a fun office environment. The coworkers seem to like joking around with me, and since the dentist is male, he often joins in as if he and I were a team. It helps make it fun to go to work.

Do the patients treat you differently?

KEN: I may get treated a little bit differently, but definitely not in any negative way. I can sometimes see a slight reaction initially, but it has never felt bad. I’m always received well. Kids are the least likely to show any reaction. I suppose because they don’t have preconceived notions about gender roles. Sometimes I feel the most popular with the kids, though I’m not really sure why.

It sounds like your experience with being a male in this profession is very positive!

KEN: Absolutely! Choosing a college that worked around my life was much easier than I could have expected. I didn’t have to stop living just because I was in school. I was able to fit in everything that was important to me while building my career.

What was it like finding employment?

KEN: I had no problem finding a job, and I was happy with the first one I got. I have been at the same office for nine years, and just recently started thinking about furthering my career. I’d like to get more specialized in a particular area. Either that, or I will go ahead and become a dentist. I just very happy about the choices I have opened up for myself in becoming a dentist assistant.

Thank you, Ken, for sharing your experience and perspective as a male dental assistant, and congratulations on finding a career that is meeting your needs and expectations!

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