Chris Blake ’19 cut his teeth on dental work with the help of two alumni during his senior year.
The baseball player and biomedical science from Hartfield, Virginia, interned at Forest Dental Center with Dan and Vicky Yeager, two dentists from the Lynchburg College Class of 2008.
Blake said a career in dentistry caught his attention thanks to good experiences as a patient. “I always thought it was interesting when I was at the dentist,” he said. “I shadowed my personal dentist at home, and I was like, ‘Man, this is pretty cool.’”
During his junior year at Lynchburg, Blake inquired with local dentists about internship opportunities. Everyone said he could watch over their shoulders, but that was it. “I don’t want to shadow, I want to actually do stuff,” Blake said.
Then some friends told him that Dr. Bill Lokar, dean of the School of Sciences, had talked about the Yeagers, two former students who were dentists in town.
After graduating from Lynchburg, they completed dental school in Richmond and then moved back to the Lynchburg area, where they took over a clinic for a retiring dentist. Over the years, they have added more and more specialties to the practice. “Every year, we try to be more and more comprehensive,” Dr. Vicky Yeager said.
Dr. Lokar, who happens to be one of the Yeagers’ patients, introduced them to Blake and proposed an internship.
Blake worked at the dental clinic two days a week last semester. He started out by watching the dentists work and taking notes.
Then he started assisting on procedures — mostly minor tasks like holding a mirror. He got a lot of experience sterilizing instruments, too. “It’s been jam packed, two days a week, but I get something out of every hour or every minute that I’m there,” Blake said near the end of his internship.
Dr. Yeager said Blake was getting a lot out of the experience. “You can tell that he’s not just here to get his credit hours,” she said. “It was interesting to see him really be engaged and not just standing in the corner and watching.”
She said Blake asked lots of questions about the reasons for clinical decisions and the jargon the dentists used. He drew tooth diagrams and jotted notes as the dentists explained different tooth structures.
The Yeagers gave Blake a set of wax blocks and he spent some of his internship hours carving them into the shapes of teeth. They also provided a set of tooth models that he could practice drilling on.
Dr. Yeager said those activities take up a lot of the first year of dental school, so the practice should give him an advantage in the admissions process. “It really teaches you tooth anatomy, and it also helps you develop hand skills with instruments,” she said. “That would demonstrate to the admissions committee that he’s got the skills.
“It’s one thing to have book smarts, but can you apply what you’re learning? That demonstrates whether or not you’ve got the hands for this type of job.”
The hands-on tasks made Blake feel confident in his career choice. “Using the drill came pretty naturally,” he said.
Learning from the alumni dentists also shaped Blake’s vision for his future. Seeing how they have made their practice more comprehensive makes him want to follow suit. “I used to want to do just general dentistry,” he said. “It’s just expanded what I would like to do.”
After he graduates this weekend, Blake plans to attend a certificate program at Virginia Commonwealth University in preparation for dental school there.
Class of 2019 Commencement Spotlights
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Chris Blake ’19 cut his teeth on dental work with the help of two alumni during his senior year. The baseball player and biomedical science from Hartfield, Virginia, interned at […]
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