HCC dental assisting student learns about dental procedures first-hand



(August 2, 2010) - Before graduating from the dental assisting program in June 2010, Hagerstown Community College student Allison Donovan, of Hagerstown, was able to experience what few dental assisting students do: dental procedures being performed live in the operating room.

As part of their training, HCC students in the dental assisting program must complete seven credits of externship time at a clinical facility. For Donovan, age 20, the two weeks she spent working with Harvey Levy at the Dr. Harvey Levy & Associates, PC, a dental facility in Frederick, not only helped her practice the skills she had learned in the classroom, but also provided her with an opportunity to observe three medical cases, two of which involved life-threatening infections in the mouth.

“I volunteered to go with them,” said Donovan. “When Dr. Levy and his assistant were preparing to leave, I told them to pack me in their bag as well and I’m so glad I did: watching Dr. Levy perform those procedures and help those patients was amazing.”

According to Donovan, Levy specializes in working with special needs patients, including “fear” patients who’ve often had traumatic experiences with previous dentists. “It was so rewarding,” says Donovan. “I’ve never been uncomfortable around people with special needs and getting to help them—seeing how it’s done and what precautions need to be taken in order to really work with them—it was a great experience.”

Levy is one of more than 15 dentists in the tri-state area that is providing externships for HCC’s dental assisting students. According to Theresa Marks, HCC instructor, dental assisting/hygiene and Donovan’s teacher, Levy was chosen specifically because of his expertise with special needs patients and his devotion to educating students and the public. “He opened up this opportunity for us here at the College,” says Marks. “Next year, we will be placing more students in his facility so that they can be exposed to a different part of dentistry they might not normally see.”

For Donovan, her experience at Levy’s practice confirmed that she had chosen the right career path and within weeks of graduating from HCC’s program, she’d obtained a job at a dental care facility in Germantown, Md. When asked about the future, Donovan replied that she plans to continue as a dental assistant. “As a dental assistant, you get to experience so many things, so many different situations that you wouldn’t see if you were just a hygienist. This is exactly where I want to be.”

HCC’s dental assisting program began in fall 2009. For more information about the program, contact Theresa Marks at 301-790-2800, ext. 507, or e-mail tmmarks@hagerstowncc.edu.

Photo caption
From left: HCC dental assisting graduate Allison Donovan; Harvey Levy, DDS; and HCC instructor Theresa Marks.