JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – Dental Specialist students attending the 330-X2 course at the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence get hands-on experience practicing skills while treating volunteer patients. Active duty, retirees, family members, and U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard with a DoD ID Card assist 68E Dental Specialist students to practice skills learned during their training through a quarterly volunteer program. This is a great training opportunity for the students, and provides a chance for patients an easier way to get dental care.
After completing Basic Combat Training, Army 68E Dental Specialist receive their initial military occupational specialty during Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at the Medical Educational Training Campus at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. During AIT, Soldiers learn specialized training needed to assist Army dentists in the examination and treatment of service members’ and dependent’s teeth. After graduating from AIT, Soldiers then report to their first duty station, and for most Dental Specialists that location is usually an Army dental clinic. In this phase of their career Dental Specialist assist dental officers and noncommissioned officers, but they do not treat patients directly.
The next training phase for 68E Dental Specialist is to attend the 330-X2 course. Under the supervision of a Dental Corps Officer, during this 12-week course, students learn instructional objectives to perform oral hygiene prophylactic procedures, conduct individual oral disease control programs, apply pit and fissure sealants to the teeth, evaluate dental radiographs, and the cleaning and sterilization of dental instruments and equipment. After didactic, or classroom instruction, for the final four weeks of the course students get hands on experience treating patients.
Raul Huerta, a Preventive Density Training Instructor, explains that students initially practice with each other to ensure they have the ability to perform cleanings before treating the volunteers.
“With the support of dependents, they get real life experiences of what the patient care encounter will be like in the dental clinic,” said Huerta. “By having retirees and their family members volunteer their time serving as patients to our students, this ensures that our students are exposed to a broad spectrum of patient care from a simple cleaning they perform, to identifying a higher-level cleaning that requires a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) or Dentist to perform.”
Spc. Reenae Goldson, a 68E Dental Specialist attending the 330-X2 course, enjoys the curriculum and training experience.
“I like the duration of the course and the way it’s structured,” said Goldson. “It’s an easier, quicker way for people to get an exam, and a cleaning without having to wait. The most exciting thing about this course are the things you learn.”
Additionally, for Goldson joining the Army and leaning her trade has been a rewarding experience in many ways. She gets to assist the dentists in the Grafenwoehr Dental Clinic, her current duty assignment, and enjoys being stationed in Germany. Originally from Clarendon, Jamaica, she joined the Army for the many opportunities. She is currently taking advantage of the college tuition assistance by attending classes to earn a bachelor’s degree in natural science. Goldson also gained her U.S. citizenship through her enlistment.
The next Preventive Dentistry Specialty 330-X2 class is scheduled to start in the third week of August 2022. Active duty, retirees, family members, and U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard with a DoD ID Card interested in assisting 68E Dental Specialists refine their skills, can call the program Manager at 210-221-8982 or 221-8748. Appointments will be open for the middle of October 2022.
For more information on becoming a 68E Dental Specialist, visit GoArmy.com at https://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/career-match/science-medicine/general-care/68e-dental-specialist.html.