Some North Dakota high school students now have two new options to kickstart their careers.
Through Dickinson High School’s Career and Technical program, students have the chance to get certifications that would typically come after high school.
They can now become certified dental assistants or certified firefighters.
“Having this certification already gives them a leg up on the competition. Other kids that come in that are just 18. They already have a certification gives them a better chance to get hired,” explained Jared Rhode, a firefighter and EMT with the City of Dickinson Fire Department.
The dental program is in partnership with the Dental Assisting National Board, or DANB.
“So what they do is DANB gives us the curriculum that we put on like a self-paced class and then they get to go in a couple days a week to go do their on the job training with the dentist,” explained Bobbie Johnson, a health science teacher at Dickinson High School.
This new dental assistant pilot program at Dickinson High School is the first of its kind in the nation.
“We’re trying to develop a program that DANB would be able to have through their organization that different high schools in the country could look at depending on the laws that they have for dental assisting,” said Johnson.
The firefighter program, in conjunction with the City of Dickinson Fire Department, is giving 12 kids from Dickinson and neighboring communities a start.
“For us to grow within is great. Instead of kids going off, when they go to other states and get certification elsewhere they tend to stay in those states or move away,” explained Rhode.
Two of the 12 kids says it’s more than just riding in the fire truck.
“It really does help out the community because we definitely do need more volunteer firefighters, especially if that’s something you want to go into as a career,” said Dickinson High School student, Samantha Whittlesey.
“It’s just one step forward you know, for the future,” said Dickinson High School student, Joseph Garcia.
And the dental assistant students say this is just the beginning.
“Recently, in the past month I think, I’ve been able to assist. So holding suction and air-water syringes and passing instruments, things like that,” shared Dickinson High School student, Griffin Obrigewitsch.
“I joined because I wanted to become a dentist and I just thought it would be a good experience to become a dentist,” shared Dickinson High School student, Evan Lubcan.
“My aunt is actually a dental hygienist in Hawaii. So she inspired me,” shared Dickinson High School student, Mckenzie Swisher.
The three students in the dental assistant program work one-on-one with three different dentists in Dickinson.
The firefighting students meet every Tuesday for hands on training.