Dental Depot’s newest Employee of the Month is Hope McMillin, a dental assistant at the South OKC office. Hope started her career in dentistry and with Dental Depot as a part of our front office team. From there, she applied to and was accepted into the Dental Depot Academy of Dental Assisting. She graduated as a registered dental assistant in Spring 2020 and was able to return to her same team at South OKC following graduation.
These days Hope works alongside Dr. Stephen Herren and his team, but there’s a lot more to this bright young woman than just assisting. For starters, Hope has served as a trainer for the Academy and even took it upon herself to learn how to treatment plan with her office manager so that each and every communication with her patients is always crystal clear. She’s not stopping there – Hope has applied to dental hygiene school and is eagerly awaiting a response later this spring.
While we are proud to celebrate her accomplishments, her dedication, and her ambition, we know that this is only the beginning of her story…and we can’t wait to see what comes next.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s learn a little more about Hope:
DD: What made you decide to get into dentistry?
HM: I’ve always been interested in [dentistry] ever since I was little. I liked going to the dentist. I was really interested in all the tools, like, ‘What’s that? What’s this?’ And it’s always been that way. So then when I got into it, I ended up loving it.
DD: So are you looking at progressing further in dentistry? Into hygiene or even dental school?
HM: Yeah, I actually applied for hygiene school at Rose State not too long ago. I sent in my application but I won’t know until March if I have an interview. I’m really hoping to get into hygiene school.
DD: And so did you have hygiene school in mind whenever you applied to the [Dental Depot Academy] program?
HM: I actually originally applied to hygiene school, but didn’t get in because it’s so competitive. So I started dental assisting, just get my foot in the door. I actually started out as a [Business Office Associate] and I was a BOA for almost a year. Then I got into the Academy. And now, I just recently learned – because I’m really wanting to know the administrative part as well as the procedure part – so I recently learned treatment plans because I want to help with everything and be able to help with anything.
DD: That’s great! Were you a BOA here at South OKC?
HM: Yeah, here at South! They really fought for me to stay here after I graduated.
DD: Which team are you on?
HM: I’m with Dr. Herren. It’s awesome. I actually started with Dr. Daniel Na, he taught me everything I know. And he helped me a lot with learning. And with Dr. Herren, I kind of learn more old school dentistry. He’s been a dentist for a long time.
DD: What was your experience like with the Academy?
HM: It was really, really great. They made everything so easy for me. They always helped whenever I needed it. I owe everything that I know to Dr. Na and the team that I was with. They’ve been really, really helpful. It helps a lot, too, after I got out of training, because I stayed on that team, and they helped me kind of progress further as an assistant.
DD: So how long have you been dental assisting now?
HM: If you’re counting when I started chairside with the Academy, it’s been a year now.
DD: What was the classroom aspect of it like?
HM: It was it was really good. Robin and Heather were really helpful. And they were really thorough in their lessons. And you can tell that they really know what they’re doing.
DD: Are you going to be a trainer for the Academy’s upcoming session?
HM: Not this coming session, but only because I didn’t know how school was going to work with me. But whenever I was training the student that I had, I had a really good experience with her.
DD: So you’ve already trained a student? How was that?
HM: Yes, I did train one student. It was awesome. I did get lucky with the student that I got because she was really eager to learn. I know a lot of people aren’t so lucky, but she asked questions and it really helped me progress, too, because I learned stuff as well, since I was still kind of new whenever I started training. But yes, helping her helped me as well.
DD: Would you recommend the Academy and why?
HM: Oh yes, definitely. I’ve actually already recommended it to one of the girls up front. Another girl up front is going to a different dental assisting school program and she has to deal with everything herself, like getting her certification and finding a place to do her externship. At Dental Depot, they just do it all for you. It’s much easier. So, yeah, that’s why. They just make things so much easier for you and they provide you with a set externship because Dental Depot takes priority over their students.
DD: What aspects of dentistry are really important to you?
HM: Patient care. Just making sure the patient is comfortable throughout the procedure because a lot of people get really anxious going to the dentist. I want to make it to where that’s not a problem for people. I want to make them as comfortable as possible. Getting into this field kind of saved me with my own mouth, made me want to take care of it more. So I just want to educate people and be like, ‘Hey, this is what you need to do.’ And all that stuff to make sure that the patient gets the care that they need.
DD: What is it kind of like here at the office?
HM: The people here…we love to have fun. I feel like if you don’t have fun at work, then you’re just gonna hate your life. But honestly, the people here make it everything so much better. Yeah, I love working with everyone here. Once [our office manager] Crystal got here, she really pushed me to be better. With me wanting to learn like, more administrative steps, so that way I could know everything. She’s really helped push me to be a better employee.
DD: That’s very good, she’s lovely. What are some of your favorite procedures to do right now?
HM: I like fillings a lot. I can do fillings in my sleep!
DD: What are some of the most important lessons that you’ve learned since becoming a dental assistant?
HM: Just making sure that before we start anything, that the patient is on the same page with us as far as the treatment plan goes. Communication is the biggest thing between the back and the front because that’s where most of the mistakes happen.
DD: It sounds like you’ve probably experienced what happens when that communication does slip through the cracks?
HM: Yeah, a little bit. Not just with myself, but with other people I’ve seen and learned through their experience as well. That’s why I’m so big on [learning] the back and the front, so that way, I know what has been signed off on.
DD: What are some of your goals in assisting right now, before you make it to hygiene school? Have you gotten any of your additional expanded duties?
HM: Yeah, I do have my CP (coronal polishing). And the only reason I haven’t gotten the other expanded duties is that I can’t get them so close to hygiene school. I’ll have to move to part-time once I start school.
DD: So with that CP, are you getting to do a lot of children’s cleanings?
HM: Yeah, I do actually. I love it. I actually want to eventually move to become a hygiene assistant just to get a better feel for hygiene. Sometimes I do get to assist in hygiene for a day and every time I’m back there I just love it.
DD: That’s awesome. I know you’ve got some great mentors on that hygiene team.
HM: For sure. Jessica has been very helpful. She went through the Rose State hygiene program, so she’s been very helpful with the interview process and all of that.
DD: Finally, what did it feel like to be surprised with Employee of the Month?
HM: It felt really, really cool. It was nice knowing that people notice what I do, and it felt really nice to be acknowledged.
From all of us here at Dental Depot, we truly hope to see Hope succeed in her dental career, and – fingers crossed – we’ll be here to welcome her back on the other side of hygiene school at her beloved South OKC office! Congratulations again to Hope on yet another achievement, we can’t wait to see what she does next.
Dental Depot is a locally owned and operated family company. As such, we believe that the incredible group of doctors, hygienists, assistants, and staff that make up Dental Depot are more than their job titles; they’re members of our extended family. In our family, we like to recognize when someone goes above and beyond, living the Dental Depot values. We are proud to shine a spotlight on Employee of the Month Hope McMillin.