Nick McCollum said observing Dr. Raymond Dennany, DDS, Nov. 17, helped him solidify his lifelong ambition to become a dentist.
"I've always thought about going into the medical field, but this made me want to do it even more," McCollum said. "I'd considered dentistry, but it (the experience) really enforced that that's what I want to do."
McCollum was one of 60 students at Northview to receive the opportunity through Family and Consumer Science teacher Michelle Burk's Orientation to Life and Careers course.
"They can go anywhere they want. Some of them come back so glad they've had the opportunity, and knowing that that is exactly what they want to do," Burk said. "Others come back and say it wasn't what they thought they want to go to school for or be."
During his job shadowing experience, McCollum observed Dennany as the doctor gave patients check-ups, cleanings, X-rays and conducted other routine dental procedures.
"He showed me how to prepare teeth for caps, watch for brittle teeth and sensitive gums, the steps to create dentures and read X-rays," McCollum said. "One thing that really stuck out to me was when he told me he hates when dentists just want to pull a tooth when the tooth can be saved."
McCollum said his interest in dentistry began last year when a guest came to speak in his eighth-grade health class at North Clay Middle School with teacher Kevin Kumpf.
"I was considering surgery, but after job shadowing I know what I want," McCollum said. "The pay is great, and I'll get to work with and help people. Knowing that coming to my office has made someone's pain go away or someone's day better would be a great feeling."
Burk said, like McCollum, a lot of her students have benefited from the job shadowing opportunity.
"When I visited Nick's site, Dr. Dennany was explaining all the instruments he was using and what he was doing," Burk said. "The community has been very supportive of having the students come in and get a snapshot of their typical work day."
She added if her students enjoy their job shadowing experience for one day she recommends they go back later.
"I try to encourage them to do a week," Burk said. "For Nick, he always wanted to be a dentist, and the experience gave him the assurance he needed."
McCollum said he'd recommend job shadowing to his peers.
"Do what your heart tell you to do, and don't let anyone tell you you can't do it," he said.