CTE Month: Dental assisting alum wins coveted DALE Foundation scholarship
Photos and Story by Misty Bouse
There is a substantial demand for dental assistants not only in Oregon but also nationwide. The state is currently facing a dental workforce crisis, marked by a critical shortage of both dental assistants and dental hygienists.
“Trained and credentialed dental assistants play a vital role in addressing this workforce crisis and are instrumental in increasing access to oral health care services for Oregonians,” said Portland Community College Dental Sciences Program Dean Jessica August.
A recent PCC dental assisting graduate, Elijah Brooks experienced a fast-tracking of his dental career last spring when, as he was completing his second externship, he was selected from a record number of applicants for the coveted Liz Koch Memorial Scholarship awarded by the DALE Foundation, the official affiliate of the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). This award helps aspiring and current dental professionals like Brooks to pursue professional development to achieve their career goals.
“I was very focused on learning about dental assisting and becoming ready to do that job correctly and compassionately. My goals include studying expanded functions and earning DANB CDA certification,” said Brooks.
Dental Assisting faculty member Sylvan Weber added, “As Elijah trained to become a dental assistant, he quickly took up the role and excelled in technical and interpersonal skills in such a short amount of time. He took the time to understand the concepts behind how and why certain procedures work. This enabled him to apply best practices, exercise critical problem-solving skills in the moment, and be an educational resource to both his peers and patients. Elijah has a unique ability to connect with patients. His empathy and genuine care for his patients are superlative to most in the field. He creates a welcoming and non-judgmental environment that can make the most anxious of patients feel at ease.”
He first completed a practicum at Oregon Health and Science School of Dentistry. Brooks then went on to complete his externship experience at Timber Dental, where he was recruited to join the team after completing the Dental Assisting Certificate.
“Elijah is incredibly deserving of this scholarship,” August said. “His outstanding commitment as a dental assistant not only positions him for success but also sets him on a trajectory to make a lasting impact on the oral health of our community. Elijah truly embodies the spirit of excellence in dental assisting.”
Brooks was selected as one of 13 recipients by the DALE Foundation’s scholarship committee that had the task of selecting recipients from hundreds of qualified applicants across the country.
PCC Dental Clinic
PCC’s dental clinic is located at the Vanport Building in downtown Portland (1810 SW 5th Ave., on the third floor). It offers low-cost dental care to community members who, by booking appointments with the program, help train the college’s talented dental hygiene and assisting students. The cost is no more than $25 for a visit, and often less.
To make an appointment, call 971-722-4909 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The DALE Foundation Board of Trustees is committed to supporting dental assistants throughout their careers and applauds Elijah for his efforts to advance in his dental career and improve the oral health of patients in the community,” said DANB and DALE Foundation Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Hanna Aronovich.
While Brooks is a standout, he exemplifies the dental assisting program’s high-caliber training and support.
PCC offers two comprehensive dental assisting programs designed to address workforce shortages in the field. The full-time program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA), ensuring that graduates receive a high-quality education that meets nationally recognized standards. Upon successful completion of the program, students are eligible to obtain the Expanded Functions Dental Assisting (EFDA) credential, positioning them for employment with the highest level of knowledge and education.
“For those seeking an alternative pathway, our non-accredited Integrated Community Dental Assisting (ICDA) program provides an option for entering the workforce as trained dental assistants.
“The ICDA program features a hybrid learning approach, allowing students to take courses online, attend in-person lab sessions on Saturdays, and participate in a hands-on externship. This flexible format caters to diverse learning styles while ensuring students acquire the essential skills needed for a successful career in dental assisting,” said August.
The DANB has called the ICDA a “Unique dental assisting program in Portland that changes lives.” Together, both programs are helping students to succeed and bolster the dental assisting profession in Oregon.