LBCC’s Dental Assisting Program: A Great Path for Helpers Like Kristin Robison | LBCC

LBCC’s Dental Assisting Program: A Great Path for Helpers Like Kristin Robison

photo of Kristin Robison

Kristin Robison is a helper. Even so, after nine years serving with the fire department, she decided it was time to slow down. She set her sights on becoming a dental assistant. Linn-Benton Community College was the perfect place to begin her journey.

Robison began serving as a cadet with Scio Fire Department when she was just 16 years old. At age 18, she began working fires with the Scio and Lebanon fire departments as an intern/volunteer and then exclusively with Lebanon.

“I thought I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” she said. “Now I’m only 25 and I’ve been through a lot. I’ve seen a lot with the fire department. House fires, medical calls, wildfires.”

Robison knew she wanted to work in healthcare, so she obtained EMT certification and worked as a certified nursing assistant while still a firefighter. Neither, she decided, would be her lifelong career. She began investigating different types of healthcare programs.

Dental assisting caught her eye.

Dental assistants play an important role in providing quality dental care. They work closely with dentists to ensure that patients receive the best possible care. Dental assistants sterilize equipment, prepare patients for procedures, take x-rays, and provide postoperative instructions. 

They help people.

Robison was living in Coos Bay at the time yet chose LBCC’s Dental Assisting Program. “I’ve had a few friends go through the program before me and I heard so many good things. LBCC was my first choice.” She relocated to Linn County to attend LBCC.

LBCC’s program is an excellent choice for those seeking a career in dental assisting. The program is fully accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and is designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in the field of dentistry.

The program includes coursework in anatomy and physiology, dental materials, infection control, and radiology. A unique benefit of the LBCC’s program is chairside assisting – which allows students to learn correct techniques to treat patients safely and effectively. That hands-on experience comes through LBCC’s Dental Link clinics, where students get to help people – even before they finish the program.

Dental Link is a free dental clinic organized by LBBC. Lindsey Chronicle serves as the clinic coordinator. 
“Dental Link is staffed by a volunteer dentist from the community along with our dental assisting students,” said Chronicle. “The dentist and dental assisting staff can do cleanings, exams, x-rays, fillings … even extractions.” 

Patients pay an office visit fee of just $30 to participate; anything beyond that is free during the 60-to 90-minute appointment.

“Last year, we served 45 patients through the Dental Link clinics and provided $22,471 worth of treatment,” recounted Chronicle.

Dental Link is held in LBCC’s Health Occupations Center in Lebanon. Currently scheduled clinic dates include:

  • February 3
  • March 3 and 10
  • May 5, 12, and 19

Community members may apply for these need-based services by contacting LBCC’s partner, Community Outreach, Inc (COI), at 541-758-3000 or by sending an email to: Alternately, applications may be downloaded online or picked up at COI’s office at 865 NW Reiman Avenue in Corvallis.

Over the next ten years, the demand for dental assistants nationwide is expected to grow 3% faster than the job outlook for all occupations. 

Dental assistants are in high demand in Linn and Benton Counties as well. The Willamette Valley continues to grow, and Oregon overall has an aging population. As people live longer, they will need more dental care. In addition, the state’s Medicaid program covers more people than ever before. And, with so many different types of dental practices regionally, there are opportunities for dental assistants with all levels of experience.

Applications for LBCC’s Dental Assisting Program open again in May 2023. The 11-month long program starts in September at a total cost of just under $10,000. The program has a great return on investment for those who want to get straight to work. 

“Our Dental Assistant Program has one of the highest demands for its graduates. We get calls all the time from clinics that want to hire our graduates, said Chronicle. “Typical starting salaries in our community are around $45,000 annually.”

With this high projected growth, now is a great time to start training for a career in dental assisting at LBCC.

Robison agrees. “The instructors here are great. They really make sure that you’re getting the material right, not just showing you once and then leaving you on your own.”

As for dental assisting as an occupation, Robison has finally found her niche. “I definitely think I’ll do this for the rest of my career. I’m really loving it.”