Valencia offers students experience in future career

By Tiffany Janiczek
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I have been a student here at Valencia for almost two years, however it wasn’t until recently that I learned that on most campuses Valencia offers specialized services for not only students, but for the community as a way for students to gain experience in certain fields.

I decided to do some investigating and see what programs Valencia had to offer. West campus has a Dental Hygiene clinic that allows students in the Dental Hygiene program to hone their skills and gives them real world experience. Since all my classes are on West, I decided to start here.

I spent a few hours on the VCC website trying to find information about the clinic and finally gave up and walked over to talk to them. I was given a quick rundown of how the appointment works, that it would cost $20 no matter how many visits I required, and found out that I may have to return for multiple visits (which was fine).

Basically, each client is paired with a Dental Hygiene student who will work with them for the duration of their cleaning. Students begin working in the clinic very soon after they enter the program, and are supervised by their professors, some of which are hygienists and others who are Dentists.

My hygienist, Lisa Almeida, is in her final semester at Valencia Community College and, unlike most students in the program, she will be graduating with both her Associate of Arts and her Associate of Science, which is the certification for the Dental Hygiene program.

My appointment consisted of a thorough consultation, where Almeida meticulously examined my teeth looking for infections, plaque, and just general decay. I pride myself in the care of my teeth, I feel my parents spent a lot of money on braces when I was younger, the least I can do is keep their investment looking nice, Almeida said that although it had been awhile since my last visit to the dentist my teeth looked great (Yay!).

After giving me the rundown on how to brush my teeth and properly floss, it was explained to me what would transpire in terms of actually cleaning my teeth. Then an instructor came and checked everything out, made sure I was properly informed of what was going on and then my cleaning began.

It was tough to ask questions, as my teeth are in my mouth, but I was able to find out about the Dental Hygiene program and why my hygienist wanted to do this, because I cannot imagine sticking my hands in someones mouth. Yuck.

As a self-proclaimed people person, Almeida was unhappy in her former career when she decided to return to school, after taking the general required classes all students must take Almeida knew she wanted to do something in the health field, however nursing didn’t interest her. Dental Hygiene did.

“I’ve learned a skill that actually helps people,” says Almeida. This is what actually drew her to the program, being able to interact and help people while building a career.

Like all students in the program Almeida splits her time between rotations at local dental clinics and hours at the West campus clinic.

While this program doesn’t offer job placement, Almeida says that “going here has opened doors” not only because of the experience of working with local dentists but also “through projects with the community that has allowed me to network” she continues.

Upon graduation from Valencia this spring Almeida wants to work as a hygienist locally, however eventually she plans to continue her education and receive a Bachelor’s, although she is unsure exactly what she wants to pursue.

I will say this, I hate going to the dentist or having anything done to my teeth (I think 4 years in braces may have something to do with that), but my experience at Valencia’s Dental Hygiene clinic was quick and painless, thanks solely to Almeida. Her manner with patients is awesome and she made me feel totally at ease.

I highly recommend checking out Valencia’s Dental Hygiene Clinic which is located on West campus in the AHS building. For more information go to or call 407-582-1305.