Growing up in California, Yessenia “Jessi” Medina always had a love of the ocean. She’d often walk to the beach, taking in the salty air and the lapping waves. She had her family with her, she had a decades long career as a dental assistant, she had a church family. What she didn’t have, however, was the spiritual life she craved.
So, she started praying. And that’s when she felt it – her calling.
“My spiritual life back in California was not deep. I went to church but I was not deeply into my spiritual life like I needed to be,” Jessi said. “God said to me, ‘If you are ready, go.’”
Jessi says she felt called to Oklahoma and relied on her faith to lead her actions every step of the way.
“When God asked me to move here, I said yes. I asked ‘When?’ and God said ‘three months,’” Jessi recalled. “So I gave my work three months’ notice. Then I said, ‘Okay if you’re calling me to move states, help me apply for jobs.’”
Jessi said that Dental Depot was her first choice because of Dental Depot’s focus on giving to the community and outreach.
“Dental Depot called me right away and asked, ‘When are you moving?’ I told them, ‘Three months,’ and they told me to call them when I got here,” Jessi said. “I moved to [Tulsa] and I hadn’t heard back from them yet. So I went to two other interviews and as I was finishing, Dental Depot called me.
“They asked if I was ready to interview and I asked ‘when?’ And they said, ‘Today,’” Jessi recalled. “What I didn’t realize, is that this office was very close to my house. So I stayed here.”
Confident that she was where God had intended her to be, Jessi set about relicensing herself as a dental assistant in a new state. Because California allows dental assistants to take on more expanded duties, including those in hygiene, Jessi had to adjust to her new role.
“I’ve been a dental assistant since 1992. In California, I had all of my [expanded duties]. I had my RDA-EF, but when I got here, I had to start all over again,” She said. “So I have everything except sealants and nitrous here.”
In fact, even her start in dentistry felt like a part of a bigger plan, says Jessi, a feeling similar to the one she experienced before moving to Oklahoma.
“Dentistry for me is like when you find your passion. When I was in high school my aunt worked in a dental office and asked me if I wanted to work part-time cleaning instruments,” Jessi recalled. “I said okay and I just kind of liked it. So then I started assisting.”
Once she’d gotten used to being in a dental office, she started to realize the impact she could have on patient’s lives. Her experiences with patients sparked something in her, an understanding that she was meant to help people.
“The most rewarding part is just seeing the patient when they see themselves [after treatment], just that ‘Wow,’ on their face,” Jessi said. “It’s nice because when their teeth hurt they are sad and then when you give them the perfect smile, that’s the most rewarding.
“They leave saying ‘thank you,’ and you realize there’s not that fear there anymore. When you make them feel comfortable and tell them they’re doing well and treat them with respect, it’s amazing,” Jessi said. “I’ve had patients say, ‘You’ve changed my life. I came in with fear and now I am happy.’ So, for me, that is incredible.”
For Jessi, periodontics is a passion, but she’s never had the opportunity to pursue hygiene school further. She’s hoping, perhaps, that with this new chapter in her life, she might find the chance she’s been waiting on.
“I love perio. I thought about doing [hygiene school], that was my main goal,” Jessi said. “But then I got married very young and I stopped my career. But I like perio. I like cleaning and doing surgery and doing all the treatments with the doctor.
“I’ve thought about trying it again, just maybe…” Jessi said. “But I like what I’m doing. You can do a lot of stuff as a dental assistant – you can do crowns, you can do treatment counseling, and you do general. I like it.”
Though Jessi is currently part of Dr. Bennett Park’s team at the Broken Arrow office, she’s transitioning back onto the hygiene side, where she originally started with Dental Depot.
“Dr. Parks is good. He’s a great doctor. He really cares about his patients and makes sure that his work is professional,” Jessi said. “When I was praying, I asked if maybe I could get the opportunity to work in hygiene Monday through Friday, so then I have more time to give on the weekends.”
And that’s exactly what’s happening. With her schedule in place, Jessi is able to spend her weekends giving back to her community through her church.
“Right now, we go and feed the homeless with the outreach program. They’re just people who are hurting. They need comfort and they need to be seen,” Jessi said. “They need to know they’re not alone and that they’re loved. These people need to know that people care about them because if people think that nobody cares, they think they’re way down there [in the dirt]. They feel misjudged, they feel like they’re worthless. I say, ‘No, you’re not. People care about you.’”
Jessi is focusing on local mission work right now and is working her way up to larger projects. Her passion for helping the homeless and the downtrodden continues not just with meals and visitation, but also through volunteering with Dental Depot on events like Dentistry from the Heart.
“Believe it or not, I love Oklahoma. This is the story of my life – it was a calling on my spiritual life to be here. It’s been three years and my spiritual life has changed everything,” Jessi said. “I went to California for a vacation recently and I said, ‘I cannot wait to be home,’ but for me, Oklahoma is my home. I went to the beach where I used to walk and I said, ‘Oh, I miss you so much, but I have to go back home.’”
Jessi and her family are originally from Nicaragua and they moved to Los Angeles, California. She now lives in Broken Arrow with her mother and brother nearby. Jessi has since remarried and her son still lives in California near her sister. She enjoys staying fit and healthy so that she can continue to serve others.
Jessi was nominated for employee of the month by her coworkers at Dental Depot Broken Arrow.
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 July, we are proud to shine a spotlight on Employee of the Month Yessina “Jessi” Medina.