Student Turns Internship into Opportunity at Children's Dental

Advertorial supplement: Patients visiting The Children's Dental Practice and Kalm, the Dent...

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Patients visiting The Children's Dental Practice and Kalm, the Dental Oasis in Menifee are greeted warmly by Anthony Lopez, who assists Dr. Ruth Bol in a variety of dental and technical jobs in the office.

One might be surprised to learn that just three years ago, Lopez was a senior at Paloma Valley High School, working as an intern in Dr. Bol's office in a work experience program.

Taking an opportunity Dr. Bol provides to young people to gain experience and learn a craft, Lopez advanced from performing routine office tasks to a full-time position. He is the team leader for the back office, takes X-rays and performs teeth polishing, and is close to being certified as a dental assistant.

"Dr. Ruth was very helpful to me when I started out," Lopez said. "It's not very common for a high school student to do the kind of work I was doing. She really went out on a limb for me.

"I started with front office work, filing, insurance verification, stuff like that. After a while, she came to me and said, 'This is not all you're supposed to be doing in an internship. You need to learn what we do in the back'. She taught me sterilization of the instruments and had me assist her at the chair. I went from an intern to part-time to full-time."

Lopez said the experience has helped him develop as a person, not just a dental assistant. He has become more outgoing, which helps him be more of a comfort to the children seated in the dentist's chair.

"It was a challenge at first," he said. "I'm naturally an introvert and it was hard for me to be animated like I needed to for the kids. After a few months, I got used to it. Then when I work in the spa it's different, because I'm dealing with adults."

Lopez also deals with a dog -- actually, two dogs. He helps watch over Deogy, the pug who serves as a "dental assisant" (i.e., therapy pet) for Dr. Bol's patients. Lopez also is helping to train DJ (Deogy Jr.), a puppy who will one day take over for Deogy.

"Deogy is very independent," Lopez said. "She'll come right away when you call her and she's very useful by helping the young patients stay calm by sitting on their lap. DJ is still getting used to the office, but she's been doing real well for a puppy.

"She'll learn from Deogy, who's very well behaved. Deogy wants to be around people. Sometimes I think she feels left out if no one is in the back at the time. If she hears people out front, she'll bark because she wants to be with peop