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Employers in every field have faced staffing concerns over the past few years. Dr. Bradley Coleman, owner and operator of Coleman Family Dentistry in Mountain Home, is no different. Coleman has struggled to find individuals interested in filling dental assistant positions and other ancillary roles in his office, and so he decided that rather than continue to post open positions online with lukewarm results, maybe he could create some interest in his field locally by teaching an introduction to dentistry course at Mountain Home High School.
“I just started having conversations with the administration about my idea,” he said. “They were all for it. One thing I will say about our district is that they want kids to have as much career-related learning as possible, so they were really open to the idea of me coming to school to teach a course.”
Coleman’s course is composed of 16 seniors, and of that group, he said approximately five are interested in pursuing work as dental assistants, five are interested in attending dental school, and six are interested in dental hygiene or other medical-related fields. Several students in his class are also interns in his office at other times during the day, so they have the opportunity to learn in the classroom and then see some of that learning applied in the clinical setting.
Currently, Coleman’s class is one of the first of its type in Arkansas. He said that students will learn various aspects of dentistry during the course, and upon completion they will be prepared to take their dental assistant certification exams. “Besides me, there are at least five dentists in town now who also need assistants,” he said. “These students can take what they learn in my class, apply for jobs as soon as they graduate, take their test under their employing dentist, and be certified and working in no time.”
Coleman graduated from MHHS in 2000 and moved back to town after dental school to practice in the community he loves. “I loved growing up in Mountain Home, and I am so glad I have been able to work and raise my family here,” he said. “Yes, I need enthusiastic and skilled employees, so that is definitely a motivation of mine, but also I just care about the kids in our district, because I was one, and I want them to have opportunities to succeed.”
District superintendent Dr. Jake Long said Coleman’s willingness to plug in with students is a testament to the type of supportive community Mountain Home is. “Brad grew up here, and people poured into him during his youth, and I think it’s a really rewarding full-circle moment when someone can serve the community that helped make them who they are today,” he said. “Him being willing to share his time and talents with our kids will have immeasurable impacts, and we’re honored that he is willing to do this for our students.”