The Value of Medical and Dental Assistants in the Healthcare Community

Interview with Dr. Kenyon Glor, Dentist for over 25 years

With his dental assistants helping him each step of the way, Dr. Kenyon Glor is a dentist who finds that helping people smile with confidence is the most rewarding part of his job. Dr. Glor has spent his more than 25 years of practicing dentistry to create a successful dental healthcare business and writes a blog to stay connected to with the patient community.

Glor first earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Indian University, and then went on to earn his Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree at Indiana University’s School of Dentistry. At his self-owned and operated implant and general dentistry practice, he works as a team with his dental assistants, who help him “keep the entire system working.” Dr. Glor’s professional belief is that by gaining exposure to different healthcare settings as a student, a potential dental or medical assistant may learn the skills and the compassion needed for high-quality patient care.

Read our full interview with Dr. Kenyon Glor and find out how he came to work in the dental healthcare industry and what he deems crucial to becoming a skilled and valuable assistant. 

Tell us more about your background and education.  What led you to earn your degree in biology and then to earn your dentistry degree? 

My degree in biology stemmed from an interest in life science. It was a natural fit. The decision to go into dentistry was less direct. I knew I was interested in science, wanted to work with people, and liked doing things with my hands. I also wanted to have a family and have a balance between life at home and the office.  As I explored different options, dentistry matched over and over. I went to dental school and never looked back.

How did the education you received and the degrees you earned contribute to starting your own dental practice?

The degrees gave me the expertise and credentials to go into practice.

What is the most exciting or rewarding thing about the work you do?

Simply put, the best part of the job is helping people. Sometimes I relieve pain, other times I restore the ability to chew (think of going out to dinner and not being able to eat), and I can restore a smile. Those can be life changing things.

What role do dental assistants play in your practice? What responsibilities do they have?

Our dental assistants are absolutely critical to the success of our practice. In a nutshell, our assistants are keys to making the entire practice work. Dental assistants have to know the procedures we do in order to do set up. They need to think steps ahead so the team can be ready and not wait for something. They have to react quickly to change. If that were not enough, they calm the patient all while holding instruments and suction. I would be absolutely lost without them.

From your experience in the healthcare industry, how are medical assistants helpful to doctors, dentists, and hospitals?

Assistants keep the entire system working. Assistants make sure everything is where it needs to be. Assistants help patients in countless ways, from comforting and answering questions, to technical help during a procedure; good assistants are worth their weight in gold! From a patient’s point of view, assistants are one of the main contact people of the practice, assistants are the “face” of the office. A good assistant can gain a patient’s confidence, this will reassure a patient, which will make care much easier. When one adds technical skill to the mix it becomes clear that without good assistants, healthcare would slow to a crawl.

What skills do you expect dental assistants to have before they start working with you? What skills do they typically develop with on-the-job training at your practice?

I expect dental assistants to know dental vocabulary inside and out, we have to be able to communicate.  I expect a good familiarity with the basic procedures we provide. Good people skills and being a quick learner are equally important requirements.

Do you think it’s an ideal time to become a medical or dental assistant and if so, why?

It is a great time to be an assistant, either dental or medical. The skill sets of a good assistant are in demand more now than ever.  As healthcare changes, more of the personal patient contact is being done by assistants. A good assistant can provide valuable patient insight that can positively affect patient care. Being able to prep a procedure so that the doctor can come in and start working is invaluable, especially in the current healthcare setting. The combination of people skills and technical skills is in demand.

What are the most important skills/characteristics for a job in medical or dental assisting?

Simply put, know the basic procedures, know vocabulary, be a quick learner with empathy and have an inviting smile!

What advice do you have for students pursuing a certificate or degree in medical assisting and how can students prepare themselves for the challenges?

Gain exposure to as many different healthcare settings as possible. Volunteer, shadow, whatever it takes—gain the experience.  While you are there, REALLY LISTEN and watch the assistants.  Find the ones that are effective, it will be obvious, and make those characteristics and skills your own.

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