Our people

A few minutes with Kenneth Howell
April 26th, 2018

Ken Howell with the College of Dentistry's Seal Mobile Title: outreach worker, public health sciences

Average workday: I arrive at 6:15 a.m., although my day doesn’t technically start until 7. I use that extra time in the morning to make goodie bags that I take to the schools. Then I start prepping all the supplies and instruments and loading the vans.

Some mornings I have to deliver supplies to our external clinics — Agape and the juvenile detention center — but I usually head out to the elementary schools around 8:30 in the morning.

Once at the schools, I get in contact with the nurse, who takes me to the room where I set up the portable operatories. I have to move desks and chairs around to see the best way to set up. I usually can have the room completely set within 30-40 minutes.

When the dental students arrive, I brief them on how to operate the equipment and where everything needs to be placed. If anything breaks down while we are on-site, I have to get it back in working order.

I put out goodie bags to give to the students after they finish their treatment and make sure the nurse has information for our pediatric dentistry program that she can give to parents.

After the students have been seen, I break down the equipment and load it back in the van. Once I return to the dental school, I bring in all the dirty instruments and take them to central sterilization. For about three years, I was responsible for sterilizing all the instruments and packaging them, but now that’s handled through central sterilization.

I also am responsible for making sure the vans are maintained, including oil changes, brake repairs, inspections and registrations.

During the summer, I continue to make deliveries to all the external clinics where we provide dental care.

When you started working at Texas A&M College of Dentistry: I started as a part-time employee in security in 2006. In 2012, I moved to the Department of Public Health Sciences, because they needed someone who could drive the mobile dental clinic and the Seal Mobile to different locations.

Favorite part of your job: Watching the kids get the dental services we provide. Some of them are scared when they arrive, and the dental students and staff members are able to calm them down so they can get the care they need. There are times when we can’t get the children to calm down because they are too afraid or they’ve had a bad dental experience. But for the ones who go through the treatment process, to see them smile when they’re finished is one of the best feelings.

Something we may not know about you: I spent 13 years in the United States Army. I retired as a corrections officer from the Texas prison system after 20 years of service.

Editor’s note: This Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.

— LaDawn Brock