Volunteering with an Orthodontist (am i being taken advantage of)

Feb 24, 2015
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Pre-Dental
So I've been shadowing/assisting an orthodontist since March, and so far its been an awesome experience. She lets me take out old wires and put in new ones, i get to put in new color ties along with power chains. I also work in the lab and make plastic retainers. I've also been taking impressions and take all the pictures for the consults. The thing is, I'm not getting paid for any of this. It takes me about an hour from taking the impression to pouring it up, separating it, trimming it down, and cutting it down to the actual usable retainer (made about 15-20). Also her secretary makes me do ALL the cleaning (wiping mirrors, sweeping, taking out the trash). I am also responsible for autoclaving all the instruments and setting up the stations accordingly. Theres also been occasions where she's made me go on food runs to pick up her lunch. I volunteer 6-8 hours a week

With all this being said.... Is this a normal amount of work to be doing without pay??
I don't have any certification or anything. Its just my parents have been nagging me about a job (in my gap year). Maybe I should ask her for Invisalign and we'll call it even :)
 
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tooth knockn

Treat others how you want to be treated
7+ Year Member
Dec 2, 2012
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So I've been shadowing/assisting an orthodontist since March, and so far its been an awesome experience. She lets me take out old wires and put in new ones, i get to put in new color ties along with power chains. I also work in the lab and make plastic retainers. I've also been taking impressions and take all the pictures for the consults. The thing is, I'm not getting paid for any of this. It takes me about an hour from taking the impression to pouring it up, separating it, trimming it down, and cutting it down to the actual usable retainer (made about 15-20). Also her secretary makes me do ALL the cleaning (wiping mirrors, sweeping, taking out the trash). I am also responsible for autoclaving all the instruments and setting up the stations accordingly. Theres also been occasions where she's made me go on food runs to pick up her lunch. I volunteer 6-8 hours a week

With all this being said.... Is this a normal amount of work to be doing without pay??
I don't have any certification or anything. Its just my parents have been nagging me about a job (in my gap year). Maybe I should ask her for Invisalign and we'll call it even :)

They are not taking advantage of you.

They brought you in, trusted you with their patients and allowed you to get hands on experience with ortho procedures.

You came in as a volunteer.

It is up to you to step up.

If you want to get paid, ask the manager or owner.

If they don't want to pay you then, take that work/hands on experience as pay/value.

You can now apply to other ortho offices or dental offices with your experience.

Step up or step down or stay in place or walk away.

Those are your choices.
 

Toothbrush Brother

2+ Year Member
Feb 1, 2015
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They are not taking advantage of you.

They brought you in, trusted you with their patients and allowed you to get hands on experience with ortho procedures.

You came in as a volunteer.

It is up to you to step up.

If you want to get paid, ask the manager or owner.

If they don't want to pay you then, take that work/hands on experience as pay/value.

You can now apply to other ortho offices or dental offices with your experience.

Step up or step down or stay in place or walk away.

Those are your choices.
Listen to the fortune cookie. The same thing occurred with me, I was sterilizing and setting up rooms as a shadow/volunteer during this summer. The dentist I was shadowing just offered me a position as a part time assistant after I graduate (I'm graduating this semester so I have an off semester). If you work hard and get along with everyone, the dentist might consider hiring you instead of someone they don't know. Treat this experience as training and a possible work interview.
 
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Nov 22, 2014
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I was waiting for you to say you were working 20 or more hours/week. For 6-8 hours, no they are not taking advantage of you. They are giving you valuable experience and for the trash and such, I would bet anything they are testing your attitude and how you handle that for a future LOR. I would be just about anyone here would love to be able to be so hands on with their shadowing experience!!
 

Cello

7+ Year Member
Sep 10, 2011
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If they had you doing that stuff when you were shadowing then yeah, maybe that would be too far. But you are a volunteer, which means that you are theirs for the duration of time that you offer yourself to them. You can always reduce the number of hours you are volunteering if it is getting in the way of other things, but I don't think you've being taken advantage of.
 

MolarBear11

5+ Year Member
Feb 21, 2014
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Are you shadowing or volunteering?

Shadowing is meant to be observational only and MAYBE helping out a bit. Most schools want a letter from a general dentist. If you were doing this for a general dentist, I would say who cares it's a fantastic opp for a good letter. Otherwise, I would feel used and ask them if they need a new employee for min wage at least.

If you are actually volunteering and the ortho knows this, then no you're not being used.
 

ncide

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Mar 2, 2015
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It looks like you are being trained as an assistant. If you went through the traditional route of taking courses at assisting school, then you would need to pay anywhere from $3,000-15,000. Take it as an opportunity to be trained and then if you would like to pursue employment, you can take your skill-set with you without the cost that an education at school would cost you.
 

StudentDentistsRock

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Jun 22, 2015
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So I've been shadowing/assisting an orthodontist since March, and so far its been an awesome experience. She lets me take out old wires and put in new ones, i get to put in new color ties along with power chains. I also work in the lab and make plastic retainers. I've also been taking impressions and take all the pictures for the consults. The thing is, I'm not getting paid for any of this. It takes me about an hour from taking the impression to pouring it up, separating it, trimming it down, and cutting it down to the actual usable retainer (made about 15-20). Also her secretary makes me do ALL the cleaning (wiping mirrors, sweeping, taking out the trash). I am also responsible for autoclaving all the instruments and setting up the stations accordingly. Theres also been occasions where she's made me go on food runs to pick up her lunch. I volunteer 6-8 hours a week

With all this being said.... Is this a normal amount of work to be doing without pay??
I don't have any certification or anything. Its just my parents have been nagging me about a job (in my gap year). Maybe I should ask her for Invisalign and we'll call it even :)
It does sound like they are, but they aren't in my opinion. Think of it this way: in exchange for them allowing you to get patient contact, you just service them a bit with the trash and other things. Honestly, I would LOVE if my orthodontist allowed me to do what you are doing.
 

Confused1617

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Apr 27, 2014
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It looks like you are being trained as an assistant. If you went through the traditional route of taking courses at assisting school, then you would need to pay anywhere from $3,000-15,000. Take it as an opportunity to be trained and then if you would like to pursue employment, you can take your skill-set with you without the cost that an education at school would cost you.
This is exactly what I did, and now I work full time as an assistant 11/hr.
 

oralcare123

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Apr 13, 2010
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It is up to them to decide how to use your services. The only thing, that concerns me is the fact that some of the duties, which you are performing, suppose to be done by a licensed person. Things like making an impression to manufacture a device, placing a wire and making radiographic pictures - not sure which pictures you are taking - supposed to be done by a licensed personnel, at least in Canada. You may check your local requirements
 

RuffDay

5+ Year Member
Apr 9, 2015
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They are definitely not taking an advantage of you. I had one experience where the dentist told me to come in for an interview, and she said I can come in the next following day.

At this time, I never had a real job. I didn't know what to expect, and what paper works that need to be done. I ended up working for an 8 hour shift for 2-3 days before Christmas. You can imagine how exhausting I was after pulling countless all nighters to study for my final examinations. Then shortly after, I had to work!

The dental hygienist asked me if I am getting paid or is it a non-paid internship on the 3rd day. It got me wondering if it is non-paid because we never discuss the pay. Eventually, I tried to find a good time to talk to her, but she always told me that was busy. At the end of the day... She told me it was a non-paid internship.

Oh man, I felt like I was being taken advantage of. I had to make her coffee a few times lol. She didn't disclose this information to me until after 24 hours of working!

Your situation is different though. She wants you to gain experience, and she inform you that are a volunteer. I can imagine how helpful it is for you whenever you are in dental school. You are very fortunate to be more exposed to dental experiences than most applicants!
 
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LizLemongrab

One Million Years Fun-geon!
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Feb 3, 2014
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Man, I only got to do suction when I shadowed. Keep track of your hours and take a look at your state regulation with regard to dental assisting. Some states permit you to become one given something like 1,000 hands-on exp hours, meeting some basic course requirements, and passing a licensing exam. This can lead pay there or elsewhere and likely a substantial advantage over your peers in dental school who are unlikely to have had as much experience as you.
 

doc toothache

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