Maybe you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up, but for some of us, knowing what career path we wanted to pursue didn’t come easy. For Natasha Henderson, she would have never guessed that dental assisting at Dental Depot’s Central OKC office would be exactly where she would flourish as a mentor.
Born and raised in Oklahoma City, Natasha went through the motions of schooling, attending Putnam City North High School and two years at Langston University without any real sense of direction.
“That was the thing to do, to go straight out of school into college,” Natasha said. “I really did not know what I wanted to do. To say, ‘I want to be a firefighter’ or ‘I want to be a nurse,’ or even that I wanted to be a dental assistant — That was furthest from my mind!”
In fact, it was her own dentist who saw the potential in Natasha to be an excellent team member. The small private practice needed help, and running errands soon turned into assisting the doctor. She stayed with the practice for about six years until a new group of interns told her how “old school” the office was, which made her wonder what more was out there.
Natasha was eager to develop her skill set, so she flipped to the employment section of the newspaper and began looking for a job where she could grow. Soon enough,
she was thrown into the hustle and bustle of the busiest of Dental Depot’s offices.
“I thought, maybe if they gave me the opportunity, I’d learn. I’d say, ‘I don’t know, but I’ll learn.’ I never hesitate to ask a question,” Natasha said. “I carried a yellow charting card around for nine months until I was solid on it. I give a lot of credit to [dental assistants] Mona [Wautelet] and Darleen [Fisher], those two took me under their wings and showed me the way.”
The transition for Natasha wasn’t easy, but she stays candid about her experiences so other assistants don’t feel alone when they’re struggling.
“[Central OKC] threw me into the deep end. Eyes wide open,” Natasha recalled. “Ask Mona. I cried in the car every time I left out of there. I didn’t think I was going to make it. There’s a lot of people who are gone that were here when I started. And you know, it’s crazy, but I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else but here.”
Natasha’s constant desire to learn didn’t go unnoticed. Soon enough she was working with different dentists, learning their individual styles and preferences. She mentioned that even though doctors will take different paths, they get to the same destination.
Today, Natasha stays busy working with Dental Depot founder and owner, Dr. Glenn Ashmore, whom she affectionately calls ‘Doc,’ at the beginning of the week and assisting Dr. Mimi, Dental Depot’s pediatric oral surgeon,on Fridays. Natasha also travels to other offices to train and encourage the new dental assistants.
“I do love the group of people that work here. And Dr. Glenn, of course. Working for him is awesome,” Natasha recalled. “He took the time to say, ‘Hey, don’t do that, do this.’ But he took the time to do it in a kind way. Doc wants me to go out and train the assistants and have me give them the best advice I can. Hopefully they take in everything, because I started from the bottom. I started really, really green.”
The perfect combination of humor and humility are what make Natasha special, someone worth listening to and she’s got plenty of good advice to go around.
“We’re all human. We’re not perfect, but if you can be on point as much as you allow yourself to be that day, there’s no stopping you,” Natasha said. “I think some assistants think they get overlooked or swept under the rug, but you have to shine in your own way. Trust me, they know. You think there’s people not watching, but they are.”
When Natasha isn’t in the offices making a difference, she can be found at home with her boyfriend and dog, or enjoying time at Lake Eufaula. She loves to fish and camp, but swimming is out of the question.
“I’ll be the first person in the boat but I cannot swim a lick. I’m an outdoors person,” Natasha laughed. “My boyfriend’s parents have a lake house and I love to get away to the country.”
Natasha’s family even makes it a habit to meet up at Natasha’s grandparent’s home and camp out on the Fourth of July every year. Her family is close-knit and her parents set excellent examples of what it meant to be hard working and moral. Natasha’s mom is one of her role models, and recently retired from 39 years as a respiratory therapist.
While Natasha has no children of her own, she loves to spoil her nephew and can’t wait until he’s older to take him on adventures. Not having kids at home just gives Natasha another opportunity to help her coworkers.
“I tell the assistants, ‘If you have children that you go home to, I have no problem taking over for you cause I don’t have any kiddos that have got to be picked up from daycare. Just go ahead and go, I’ve got this.’ I think some of them do appreciate that,” Natasha laughed. “I think Dr. Glenn might need to think up a little Dental Depot daycare for the moms that do have kids and have to stay late.”
Natasha is a perfect example of someone who isn’t afraid to try new things. She’s the kind of person who will try anything at least once and that’s exactly how she came to be a dental assistant. She came into it not knowing what to do, but brought a servant’s heart and a hunger to grow every chance she got—and that’s just the sort of person that makes our offices special. Natasha put it best:
“Just continue to learn new things every day. Get better. There’s always room for improvement.”
Natasha was nominated for Employee of the Month by Brian Ward, manager of Dental Depot’s Central OKC office, as well as several of her coworkers:
“Natasha is driven to provide patient-focused care. She takes pride in her work at Dental Depot. She is always wherever help is needed, even if it isn’t her doctor. She is a great asset to the company and for that I know she will continue bringing great care to the patients. I hope she is chosen for the reward, she deserves it.” –Annette Henderson, patient care coordinator.
“Natasha is consistently one of the best attitudes of anyone in the office”—Brian Ward, manager of Dental Depot Central OKC
“Natasha works incredibly hard and is always willing to help out.” –Pam Foster, patient care coordinator.
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. This January, we are proud to shine a spotlight on Employee of the Month Natasha Henderson.