Title: patient services associate
Average workday: I start my day with emergency patients, and you have to take a step back and realize they are in pain; they’re not feeling well. They are not sleeping. They are not eating. You’re not dealing with them like they would normally interact. You have to learn not to take things personally. This is a dental office; people are scared, they’re nervous.
The emergency clinic ends at 9 a.m., and then I go straight into morning screenings. Mornings are pretty jam-packed, and in the afternoons, I have screening patients coming in for an hour and a half. The rest of the time I do the PHI — protected health information — boxes. I gather that information and take it all down to be shredded.
I also help my supervisor, Gracie Perez, with the emergency kits, and when the batteries for the AEDs — automated external defibrillators — are low, I put new batteries in.
I deal with everything from medical emergencies to lost children and showing someone where the nearest water fountain is. No two people are exactly alike. Patients will come down and show me their dentures or their teeth. It’s kind of like being a bartender; people tell me things that they might not ever tell anyone else. It gets pretty interesting sometimes. Dealing with people is fun; it’s never boring.
When you started working at the College of Dentistry: October 2004. I started as a cashier, and then I moved into the records room. When the school went digital in 2007, they opened up this position and thought I’d be a good fit.
Favorite part of your job: I guess if not the variety, I appreciate the autonomy that I have out here, that I can organize my day the way that works best for me. I’m the only one who’s ever worked in this position.
Something we may not know about you: I’m a Navy brat. I grew up a lot overseas in the Philippines and Taiwan. When you are a child, your parents can tell you that you have it so good, but until you go and live in another country, you don’t see what poverty really is. It’s given me a gratitude for how fortunate I am. I’ve never been hungry; I’ve never been homeless. I’m really glad, looking back, that I had that opportunity.
Editor’s note: This Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.