Melissa Jamerson of Carolina Dental Studio in Spartanburg has been a registered dental hygienist for 31 years. She said she sort of just “fell into” it.
“This career was truly fate. I didn’t know what I was interested in pursuing as a career after high school. I liked the medical field, but I wasn’t sure about nursing. One day the colleges came to my high school, and I saw some information about the dental hygiene program. My personal dentist back then didn’t even have a hygienist, so I didn’t know much about it. I decided to try it out, and I have been doing it ever since,” she explained.
She attended Greenville Technical College and worked as a hygienist for various offices in the Spartanburg and Greer area for 16 years. She also obtained an anesthesia certification in 2001 so that she could give injections.
In 2004, she started working at Carolina Dental Studio and she hasn’t looked back.
“I love the interaction with patients the most,” she said. “It is a general dental practice so we see all ages – from pediatrics to geriatrics.”
Dr. Brian Ray is the owner and dentist at Carolina Dental Studio.
“Dr. Ray is an awesome doctor,” Jamerson said. “He treats his staff very well, and we really feel a part of a team here.”
She said she loves the way the other women who work in the office get along so well together.
“We all work very hard, and we are there to do our job. It helps that we have a wonderful boss,” she explained.
She admitted that she has become attached to many of the patients.
“We see them every six months, and I couldn’t fathom leaving because I would be leaving my patients,” she said.
Besides the relationships with the patients that she has formed, she said she enjoys the clinical setting of being a dental hygienist as well: “Getting my certification to be able to administer anesthesia was one of the best decisions I ever made. It opened me up to be able to do more for our patients.”
She advised anyone who is thinking of pursuing a career as a dental hygienist to visit a dental office and speak to the staff to find out firsthand what it would be like.
“Find out how long they have been there. If there is a lot of changeover, there must be a reason,” she explained.
She also pointed out that dental hygienist school is not easy.
“I think people think that because it is a shorter program, that it is easy, but it isn’t,” she said. “Be prepared to work hard.”
“Many people are afraid of going to the dentist, and they aren’t happy when they show up for their appointment. They may come across as rude or angry. I don’t think they mean to be mean. It is fear. As hygienists, it is our job to put them at ease. Talk to them. Get to know them. Taking care of them is our first priority.”
Jamerson has been married for 31 years and has two daughters – Cara, 26, and Kinsey, 20. She loves football and she enjoys going to the gym every day.
By Theresa Stratford