At one time, Tenisha Dawson was living her life as an emergency medical technician. She has a desire to help others, and she thought that was the best way for her do what she loved.
But, eventually, the emotions that come as part and parcel with that line of work proved to be too difficult for her to process. Dawson realized she needed a change, but she still wanted to be in a position of helping others. This led her to make the decision to enroll in the UAB School of Dentistry’s dental assistant program, which she completed.
Dawson has since spent the past three years playing a key role as a dental assistant in the school’s faculty practice. Co-workers say she is a tremendous asset to the school and demonstrates a high level of professionalism and dedication — all qualities that contributed to her being selected as October’s Employee of the Month.
“I really and truly love my job,” Dawson says. “I love everything that I get to do here, the people that I work with and the patients. It’s a great feeling coming to work every day.”
Augusto Robles, D.D.S., assistant professor of dentistry, says Dawson is a very hard worker who has excelled in her role.
Big, bright smile
“She has received more responsibilities because of her ability to be organized and get things done,” Robles says. “And she always manages to get everything done with a big, bright smile.”
Dawson works as part of a team that assists dentists with procedures including root canals, fillings, extractions and others. Because schedules are often full, it’s important that everyone in the practice work together as a team to maximize effort.
Merrie Ramp, D.M.D., who is assigned to work patient care with Dawson, says her co-worker is prepared, thinks ahead and exemplifies teamwork.
Nominate someone for Employee of the Month
“Tenisha cheerfully helps with tasks with and without being asked,” Ramp says. “She helps her co-workers with their tasks. When she is not with patients, you will see Tenisha busy in the sterilization area, at the front desk, in the chart room or in the supplies and inventory area. She works cheerfully and willingly.”
Dawson says she appreciates the coaching and the help she receives from her co-workers. In fact, she says she doesn’t do anything different than any one else in the practice. Everybody pitches in and helps to get the job done.
“All of my co-workers are just unbelievable — awesome, really,” Dawson says. “I really don’t understand why I’m the one that’s being recognized because we all work together to help each other.”
And Dawson says the teamwork is designed to help the patients, the central focus of the group. Sonya Mitchell, D.M.D., division head of Predoctoral General Dentistry, has worked alongside Dawson weekly since 2009. Mitchell says Dawson always has the interest of their patients at heart.
“Tenisha is always courteous to patients,” Mitchell says.
In fact, Dawson loves her patients. Nothing makes her more pleased than to have someone excited about the results of the dental work they have received.
“It’s enjoyable to try to help others,” she says. “The other day, we had a patient that had some decay in their front teeth, and we had to fix it, and they cried. I remember when I applied for the assistant program, one of my reasons was to help people with their self-esteem. A lot of times people don’t smile because they don’t like their teeth. It’s just a real pleasure to see the turn around from when they first come in and see them have a positive outcome.
“It’s nice to see their joy. It’s great to be able to help others in such a positive way.”
Co-workers are returning a little of that tender love and care to Dawson these days, too. Dawson and her husband, Gregory Dawson Jr., are awaiting the arrival of their first child. Gregory Dawson III is due to arrive March 3, 2013.“Everybody is like mommy over here,” Dawson says through laughter. “If I haven’t eaten, they will come and step in and say, ‘Go grab something to eat. You need to eat.’ They’re all playing the mother hen role very well, and I definitely appreciate it.”