MASTER CORPORAL LORNA ROBERTS: I’m Master Corporal Lorna Roberts from Conception Bay, Newfoundland. I’m a Dental Technician currently serving at Canadian Forces Base Halifax.
CORPORAL STACEY WILLIAMSON: And I’m Corporal Stacey Williamson from Ottawa, Ontario, a Dental Technician with 2 Field Ambulance in Petawawa, Ontario.
WILLIAMSON: Serving as a Dental Technician in the Canadian Forces takes your professional skills and dedication to your patients and lets you practice them in a unique and exciting environment.
ROBERTS: Whether it’s a modern clinic on a base at home in Canada… driving the mobile dental clinic and setting it up for an army unit in the field… or even working aboard a Navy ship in the middle of the ocean… the challenges and opportunities will test you every day.
WILLIAMSON: Well, you definitely have to be versatile, you definitely have to be flexible, you have to work with what you have. We care for our patients no matter what their condition is, no matter where we are. So whether we’re in a field unit, in a field SEV, or we’re working in a clinic, the patient is still going to get 100% care 100% of the time.
WILLIAMSON: In the Canadian Forces, you’ll be working chair side with some of the finest dentists and oral surgeons in Canada.
ROBERTS: The salary and benefits are outstanding… not to mention the job security! There are great opportunities for continuing your education, specializing and upgrading your skills, and, after only a few years of service, the possibility of being trained as a fully qualified Dental Hygienist.
ROBERTS: You also have the option of serving part-time as a member of the Health Services Reserve.
WILLIAMSON: Just like in a civilian practice, you’ll be performing all the regular duties of a dental assistant as well as taking x-rays, making dental impressions, and keeping records.
WILLIAMSON: In the military, you’re challenged, you’re exposed to many more things, you don’t just do dental assisting.
ROBERTS: I got in, and suddenly I was driving huge trucks and going through the woods in the middle of the night with a little compass and firing machine guns.
WILLIAMSON: As you can see here, we do field training, we take dental to the field, we take dental to the ships, we take dental overseas. And I just wanted to be a part of it in more of an active role rather than just walking into a clinic day by day, and doing regular, routine work.
ROBERTS: I’m really enjoying this part of my life, I must say.
MODULE 2 – What’s cool about the job
WILLIAMSON: The nice thing also about being in the military is you don’t just have to do that one job. Even though I’m trained as a dental assistant, they give you other experiences and they give you opportunities for growth. And that growth came for me when I was able to work with 2 Field Amb going overseas and working in a medical clinic. It’s one thing to be able to serve the people here in Canada, to be able to serve our members, but to go further, to go abroad, that was an excellent opportunity, I really enjoyed it.
ROBERTS: Last year, I went with the US military for seven weeks, I went down to Central America. In Guatemala, I was actually flown into the mountains. We got to go in there daily for six days. You don’t feel like you’re just doing your job, you feel like you’re giving back at the same time. It was hard some days, but then you walked away and you thought how much better things were because you were there.
MODULE 3 – Trade-Specific Training
ROBERTS: To qualify for entry into the Canadian Forces as a Dental Technician, you’ll need to have your Level Two Dental Assisting Diploma from a Canadian college, or your certificate from the National Dental Assisting Examining Board. If you’re just thinking about a career as a Dental Technician, or if you’re currently enrolled in Dental Assistant Level Two training at a Canadian college, you may qualify to have the Canadian Forces pay the entire cost of your education, in exchange for a period of mandatory service after you graduate.
ROBERTS: Every Dental Technician has to complete the same Basic Training that an infantry soldier or an Air Force technician completes.
ROBERTS: After Basic Training, you’ll undergo additional training at Canadian Forces Base Borden, in Ontario. This lasts for approximately eight weeks. The first half of that time will be spent learning how to drive and set up the mobile dental clinic.
ROBERTS: Borden is also the home of the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre. You’ll spend four weeks there on your Basic Dental Technician Course, focusing primarily on clinic administration and field operations.
MODULE 4 – Your First Posting
WILLIAMSON: Your first posting will be at a dental clinic in Canada. You’ll be part of an experienced, motivated, and highly trained team.
WILLIAMSON: In a multifaceted clinic, you’re being exposed to a lot more. And it’s nice, because again, that works on your skills and it just expands your knowledge. And it shows, if you’re interested in certain areas, that’s an avenue that you can then pursue and the military will support you in doing that, which is great.
ROBERTS: I’ve worked in all the specialties, here. So we have an oral surgeon, a prosthodontist, a periodontist. I’ve done the administration of the floor, where I run sick parades, decide how things are handled. So you never just do your job, you’re always doing your job and then moving on to the next job.
ROBERTS: Most Dental Technicians work a normal 40-hour week, Monday through Friday, with occasional night and weekend on-call responsibilities to handle emergencies. Of course, when you’re deployed on a field exercise or at sea, the demands of the mission always come first.
ROBERTS: There’s a wide range of specialty courses available to help you upgrade your skills – fully paid-for, of course! You might be interested in emergency dentistry, field operations, or clinic management. And there’s always the opportunity for deployment and travel.
ROBERTS: I like the fact that I get to learn. I enjoy not just doing the same thing every day. And the military doesn’t really give you that option. They always push you to be more and it’s a really rewarding feeling.
MODULE 5 – Testimonials
WILLIAMSON: The dental care within the military is exceptional. The skills and the training that we receive are amazing; the newest equipment is always there. They’re always open to furthering knowledge, bringing new things into the military. It’s awesome, it’s an excellent opportunity – it’s great.
ROBERTS: It’s not so much when I’m here, but it’s when I get to speak to my daughter’s friends and they ask about what I do, and they see the pictures of where I’ve been and all the great things I’ve done. And they’re kind of amazed that the opportunity is there for them. And it makes me very proud. My son would call me when I was away, and he’d be like “Mom, who did you help today?” You know, it’s pretty—it tears you up a little bit, it’s pretty amazing.