Dental assistant Samantha Ruble, our superstar this month, is celebrating fifteen years with Winchester Dental! In this interview, Sam talks about the chance opportunity that changed her original career path, her favorite training courses over the years, and a great piece of advice that still motivates her.
How did you decide to become a dental assistant?
I was attending Lord Fairfax Community College, intending to go into nursing. I needed a part-time job and started working for my childhood dentist. It was a nice arrangement—I worked at the front desk and was able to schedule my work hours around my time at school. One day the doctor needed extra assistance with a patient, and asked me to help. Having never assisted before, I was hesitant, but I loved it, and that was the turning point for me. Eventually I ended up at Winchester Dental—and this month marks my fifteenth year with this practice!
What are the things you believe someone needs to be successful in this job?
It’s important to be outgoing so that you can talk to patients and help them to be comfortable. It’s also important to be flexible. If you don’t like change, you won’t be successful. So many new things happen each year (new procedures and technology) and there is a big learning curve. You need to stay positive and go with the flow; this is something I tell all the new assistants. Even when I don’t like changes, I just go with them.
Did you have a professional mentor? How did that person encourage you?
Pam, the lead assistant at an office where I previously worked, showed me everything. She also worked at the local free clinic and ran it for years. She was happy and cheerful every morning, and we had fun. I never thought I’d want to look in someone’s mouth back then, but she had a passion for dentistry, and working with her was fun. We learned things together.
Is there a great piece of advice you’ve gotten that always motivates you?
“Work until you no longer need to introduce yourself.”
Team members at Winchester Dental attend regular continuing education and training. Has there been a course that has really stuck with you?
For a while, there was a trainer who came to our practice every quarter to help us with productivity. The sessions would last an entire day, and I really enjoyed it. It helped us to expand our hours and offer appointments on Saturdays. Just now, I’m looking forward to my next course—this month!—on cosmetic laser training. Dr. Gio and Dr. Richardson and I will all attend together to learn more about using the new laser our practice has recently introduced.
What are you passionate about?
Professionally, I’m committed to serving my patients and providing them the best dental experience. So many patients don’t like sitting in the dental chair, and I want to help them to be comfortable. By now, my patients are like my family—some of them have known me since before I had kids! When patients come in and they know you, it helps put them at ease, they ease into the chair, and they’re happy.
When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your free time?
I enjoy being with my kids and doing fun activities with them. We run around a lot! I love cooking, too, and cook every day for my family of four. Outdoors, I enjoy track and field activities. It’s been 20 years since I was last on the track, but my daughter is enjoying it now. Maybe I’ll get to help with her team. I’d love it!