A few minutes with Donna Moreno, dental dispensing technician
Jump on the double elevators adjacent to the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry atrium, and you’ll get a glimpse of the activity on each of the school’s eight floors. For some, the view through those glass walls and open elevator doors are the extent of their exposure to TAMBCD’s clinics.
This is not the case with dental dispensing technician Donna Moreno.
Moreno is what is known as a “floater” — she understands the inner workings of many of the college’s 15 clinics.
A conversation with Moreno on a Thursday morning in November offers a peek into her ever-fluctuating work schedule. No two days are exactly the same. For the moment, it’s calm in the first-floor Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic, where Moreno begins her workday.
“This afternoon I’ll go to the ‘removable’ clinic, for instance, and then they’ll probably send me back here later,” Moreno explains. Her duties the day prior: assisting with mock board examinations in periodontics.
The months of December and January take Moreno to the Third Floor Clinic, an epicenter of activity, with more than 100 chairs and capacity for more than 220 occupants at any given time.
Regardless of her vantage point for the day, or even hour, Moreno’s smile is the first thing co-workers, students and patients spot. Her approachable manner compels them to anticipate and welcome seeing her in multiple locations.
Like the one student who did a double-take after working with Moreno in oral surgery. Mere minutes later, there she was again, in the Removable Prosthodontics Clinic.
Now the students know what to expect.
“Donna, where are you going to be today?” they’ll ask her.
No one understands this better than Jacqueline Touch, who supervises the Third Floor Clinic dispensary. Since Moreno started at TAMBCD in February 2009, she’s helped that dispensary on multiple occasions.
“Donna takes initiative,” says Touch, senior dental dispensing technician. “I don’t have to ask her to do anything. That’s what I love about her. She helps everyone out. And she’s friendly with everyone, students as well as co-workers.”
As a dental dispensing technician, Moreno is on the front lines of infection control. She is trained to handle clean and recently used dental instruments, which demands precision and utmost attention to ensure proper sterilization. Safety is paramount — for her as she works — and ultimately, for students and faculty, and the patients they treat.
Recognizing dental instruments with the quick turn of her head and picking up on the nuances of each department are innate benefits of the job, but they alone are not what fuel her.
“I love helping people,” says Moreno. “That’s my goal — if someone is hurting, to get them to where they’re not hurting. Even though I’m not a dentist, I can help make sure that everything is going smoothly over here.
“TAMBCD is a wonderful place to work because you are working with people all day, eight hours a day, five days out of the week. And you have to be a special person to work here because you have got to love people; that’s the only way.”