Natalie Reeds’ passion for teeth isn’t something you will anticipate when you first meet her. Coming from a young college graduate, most people assume that graduates have no clue what to do after school is done and it’s not plain to see that she has carefully taken the right courses and steps to pursue her future career as a Dentist, yet she has struggled to become certified thus far.
“I have a weird passion/love for teeth,” Natalie said. “I like to think I’m artistic, and it’s like an art to me.”
Natalie attended Tulsa Tech during her high school career to feed her interest dental assisting. She spoke to me about the science involved with dentistry and how growing up, her family dentist inspired and piqued her interest. While in high school, Natalie became a certified Dental Assistant and continued her dentistry path at Oklahoma State University.
After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in 2012, Natalie pursued a job in the dental field to further her career and get real experience. She started working at the patient scheduling center for Ocean Dental January 2013 and was quickly promoted to a leadership position the following August.
According to her manager Melissa Loudamy, “She was someone that stuck out, in saying that she was a hard worker, dedicated, persistent, she made herself stand out. She had the answers and would help people without anyone having to ask her.”
Melissa, along with other members of the leadership staff, has had nothing but positive reviews over Natalie’s work performance. As a certified Dental Assistant, she is able to work her way into the different locations Ocean Dental has available and has helped when some of the clinics are short-staffed.
Apart from helping in the clinics, Natalie is also part of Ocean Dental’s Mobile Screening Unit (MSU) team. MSU goes to different schools around Oklahoma to give children free dental screenings or the option of a dental hygiene visit exactly as it would be done in the clinic. The hygiene visit is covered by insurance and includes services such as prophylaxes, comprehensive oral exams, oral radiographs, fluoride treatment and dental sealants. They visit head starts, elementary, middle and some high schools, providing children these services along with some goodies to get kids excited and educated about their teeth.
“She is so great and well educated in the field that she is sought out from many of our locations in Oklahoma to come help out,” Melissa said.
Although Natalie has taken the right steps to get her where she wants to be, she, like everyone else has encountered some struggles along the way. This March she will be taking the Dental Admissions test (DAT) for the second time then applying to Dental School for the third time in June. The Dental program is not quite as easy as one would assume. Natalie explained to me the long hours of studying she must go through, being that it is all done independently. She has had to put herself on a very strict and rigorous study schedule along with purchasing practice tests to prepare her.
“Being the one person that gets chosen. The odds are stacked against you. There are a lot of applicants, and you have to make yourself stand out,” Natalie said.
After have taken the DAT a couple of times, Natalie has not lost hope that she will pass it this March. With her current experience in the dental field, and her previous knowledge of taking the test, she knows what she needs to work on and how to manage her time for the upcoming exam. Natalie has continued to build relationships with the Dentists employed with Ocean Dental and other members of leadership so that it may help her further her career and give her the edge she really needs.
From the financial aspect of Natalie’s career, it has not been a big issue; in fact her mother, Debbie Reed, supports her career goals and believes that she is very well suited for it.
Natalie’s mother, Debbie, explained to me that her daughter has had some trouble presenting herself to whoever makes the decisions and that she must learn to be more expressive but as a young college graduate she continues to learn and grow as a person. Her mother not only encourages and supports her career, but also gets involved in volunteering with Natalie and trying to set herself apart from her competition.
Debbie and Natalie have volunteered for Oklahoma’s Mission of Mercy for the past five years. The both explained the program to me which is a two-day free dental clinic that treats patients who are either uninsured, underinsured or do not have access to dental care. OK MOM treats patients for cleanings, fillings, root canals, and even oral surgery; all done for free by pure volunteers like Natalie.