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Shawsheen Tech Dental Assisting Students Take A Big Step

Oct 15, 2015 10:25AM ● By Bill Gilman

Xenia Rodriguez.

(Editor's note: The following information was submitted by the PR Department of Shawsheen Tech.)

Shawsheen Valley Technical High School dental assisting instructor Gwen Cardoos just loves it when her students take big steps toward their future.

So it’s easy to imagine Cardoos’ excitement when recent graduate Jillian King and current senior Xenia Rodriguez recently passed the Radiation Health and Safety certification of the Dental Assistant National Board (DANB).

Rodriguez also earned the DANB’s Infection Control certification last year.

The Radiation certification allows those that pass the difficult test to administer X-rays to patients.

As part of the process, Rodriguez and King had to study how to take X-rays, from placing the film in the mouths of patients to the different types of X-rays available, and what purposes they serve. There were also safety requirements that the girls had to learn. 

“It’s huge,” said Cardoos, who was also quick to praise Shawsheen junior Hannah Barry of Billerica for passing her infection control test recently. “These are very important certifications.”

Cardoos, a Certified Dental Assistant and a Registered Dental Hygienist who has worked at Shawsheen since 2012, was proud of her students and admits, the testing isn’t easy.

“It’s very intimidating,” she said. “Few that do it, actually pass.”

But thanks to the way Shawsheen prepares its students, King and Rodriguez ended up doing just fine.

“I’m planning on becoming a dentist,” said Rodriguez, also a member of the school’s undefeated cross country team this fall. “The first time I became interested in [the dental field] was in fourth grade when I got my braces. I was completely fascinated by it.”

She admits, her time at Shawsheen has certainly been a big factor as she continues to pursue that dream. Rodriguez said the teachers helped prepare for the testing and that working through the school’s cooperative education program has also been beneficial. Rodriguez works at Complete Dental Care in Burlington with Dr. James Kostas.

“All the experience I get [through the cooperative education position] being with patients and learning how to react in an office in different situations is amazing,” she said. “It made me realize that this is actually what I want to do because now I see it and I see exactly what I am going to have to deal with.”

King is making progress toward a career in the dental field as well. She works with Dr. Rachel Perlitsh at Wilmington Orthodontics.

“[These certifications] will help with future goals and attaining employment in a dental office,” said Lorraine Reppucci, another one of Rodriguez’s instructors at Shawsheen. “All of the instructors of the program are extremely proud of these accomplishments. It is something they should be very proud of.”

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