Gracie Hammer, a senior at Boone High School, spends her afternoons in Downtown Ames at Pyfferoen Pediatric Dentistry where she is job training to become a licensed dental assistant.
This is part of a State of Iowa dental assistant trainee program overseen by the Iowa Dental Board. Working under the supervision of a licensed dentist, Gracie engaged in on-the job training that includes chairside assisting, infection control, and dental radiography. The goal is after 6-12 months, she will be able to complete a series of assessments and apply to be a Registered Dental Assistant.
This opportunity is available because of the collaboration between the Boone EDGE Program and Dr. Matthew Pyfferoen. Boone EDGE is the work-based learning program through the Boone Community School District where students get to “experience real-world work through authentic projects, internships, tours, and speakers.” This is one of many opportunities afforded to students in the Boone EDGE program.
“It is important that we provide high school students a wide variety of career awareness and training opportunities while in high school,” said Lindsey Hyman, Boone EDGE Coordinator. “Fortunately for us, we have amazing partners across the region who are willing to help high school students gain experience related to their field through Boone EDGE. These partnerships truly are a win/win for not only the students but also the employer.”
Students earn high school credit through the Boone EDGE program, while learning on the job skills. For employers, establishing partnerships can help fill the job market gap that exists right now. “A huge benefit for the employer is the fact that they get a student who has proven themselves to us in school and has been hired and trained per the dentist specifications,” said Hyman. “The employer gets a multistep vetting process for employees by partnering with the school because we know these students and can help train and support them prior to applying and entering the workforce.”
When approached with this idea, Dr. Pyfferoen quickly saw an opportunity for his practice to train and hire. Gracie is the second student that Pyfferoen has brought in for on-the-job training from Boone EDGE. The first was Kennedy Lewis in 2022. At the time, Kennedy was a senior at Boone High School and completed the program. She now works full-time in the pediatric dentistry office.
“The labor market is very tight right now, especially in the service and trade industries. This is a great program and a win-win for the students and for our office,” said Dr. Pyfferoen. “If we can train and then hire talented dental assistants, we will utilize that opportunity every time.”
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About the Ames Chamber
Centrally and conveniently located in the heart of the Midwest and Iowa, Ames is known for its healthy, stable economy, flourishing cultural environment, and the world-renowned Iowa State University.
With over 700 members, the Ames Chamber of Commerce strives to make Ames a better place to live, work, and do business by strengthening the economic vitality and the quality of life in the Ames community.