Inside Dental Assisting
Dental Assistant of the Year Runners-Up
John Hatfield Jr.
When John Hatfield Jr. joined the Pennsylvania Air National Guard in January 1995, he told the recruiter he wanted to learn skills that he could utilize in a civilian career. After taking various tests, he was placed in dental assistant training, a career that he enjoys in both military and civilian settings today. Hatfield currently serves as a tech sergeant and participates in exercises with the Guard one weekend a month. He values the quality training that he continues to receive through the military. He has seen three active duty deployments, most recently in 2011 to Kuwait. “Your schedule is very different when you are on active duty,” he explains. “It is the assistant and the dentist and many needs. If someone comes in at 2 AM in need of a root canal, you gladly perform that service.” Hatfield’s advice regarding dental assisting as a career choice, especially for men, is that people should pursue what makes them happy. He has been employed with Aspen Dental in the Pittsburgh area since 2008, currently as regional lead assistant. It is on the Aspen Dental Intranet that Hatfield learned about the Dental Assistant of the Year award. “A coworker and I were imagining what it would be like to be the recipient of this honor. Later, she told me that she had submitted a nomination on my behalf.” That coworker, Katie Bozsan, RDH, wrote in her nomination, “John’s dedication to his career and fellow dental assistants is astonishing but it doesn’t hold a candle to the dedication he has to his country. John shrugs off any praise, saying it’s the right thing to do and he would want his family members treated that way. John treats dental assisting as a career and lifestyle.” When asked about awards received, Hatfield responds, “To be honored by one’s superior is rewarding, but to be recognized by one’s coworker is the ultimate recognition.”
Stephanie Joyce Schmidt
Stephanie Joyce Schmidt credits former dental assisting instructor Sally Ingram for her love of science and acceptance of responsibility throughout her career journey. Schmidt says she has had a fulfilling, varied, and all-encompassing career in the dental field and has been motivated to continually improve herself through advancements in licensure, continuing education, and involvement in local dental organizations and charities. Schmidt’s career includes progression in a small number of dental practices where her responsibilities grew to a pivotal point while she was employed with the VA Medical Center as a chairside assistant and implant research assistant and trained as a certified dental technician. When she was asked to supervise dental assistant interns from the local dental assisting programs, she had to obtain her California teaching credentials to do so. Then, she was invited to teach in dental assisting programs. Today she enjoys a full-time faculty position at Pasadena City College in the dental assisting and hygiene programs. “A quality lifestyle can be achieved through a career in dental assisting,” Schmidt says. The holder of three Dental Assisting National Board certifications, three licenses in California (including as Registered Dental Assistant in Extended Functions Restorative), and a master of science in education degree, Schmidt says dental assistants can make significant impacts on oral healthcare needs. She has participated in several community outreach projects and volunteers regularly at Meet Each Need with Dignity, a dental clinic for the underserved in the San Fernando Valley. When asked what keeps her awake at night, Schmidt laughs and states: “I have several things always rolling around in my head, such as how to provide education to our students in new and more effective ways and how to share information and ideas with my fellow educators. I find that using humor and a positive attitude can go a long way.”