Sarah Helffrich soon will celebrate one year at her first full-time job with Pittsburgh Dental Implants and Periodontics.
Her work as a dental assistant has put career choices and what a smile means into perspective.
“I really love being with the patients, especially after surgeries because of how happy they are, but there’s so much happening behind the scenes” Sarah said. “You think of dental and you probably think of cavities and fillings, but we’re mostly surgery-based. I do a lot to run different operations to change how people see themselves and how other people see them. I love being a part of that.”
A 2019 Avonworth graduate, she was unsure in high school of her potential career.
She looks back on her decision to enroll in A.W. Beattie’s Dental Careers program as life-changing, because she now helps to change lives.
“I was doing a post-op a few weeks ago with a girl to take sutures out, and she said to me, ‘I never really ever had the chance to smile and be proud of what I saw in the mirror,’” Sarah said. “So, being where I’m at now, it has really has brought me to tears more than a few times.”
Sarah first ventured into the dental field after she was exposed to orthodontics in high school.
A friend asked why she would go to the career center, and her choice came down to practicality for her future.
“I thought the field and the people in it were really cool and interesting,” Sarah said. “I thought it could be a jumpstart to what I might want to do instead of paying for it in college and not knowing if it was really what I wanted. If I never did the program, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
Asked about her favorite part of the class, she said it was Mrs. Gibson applying each lesson with a hands-on experience.
“I loved when we did live work in the chair, because that’s when it became real to me,” Sarah said. “I knew I wouldn’t be happy sitting at a desk, and when I finally got here I realized people have no idea no how far it puts you ahead. I’m working and making money, and I have a lot of friends who are stressed out in college and still don’t know what they want to do. If you do what you’re supposed to do (at Beattie), you’re setting yourself up for success.”