ASPA Member Highlight – Rick Kroener, Departmental Assistant/Dental Technician, College of Dentistry

Written by Karen E. Mosier

Rick is a Master Dental Technician from Germany with over 36 years of experience in the field. He has worked on campus for the College of Dentistry for the past 2 years after having worked with a private lab in the Dental College building since 2011. His position was uniquely created to meet the needs of dentistry students and provide hands-on instructions as well as theoretical training in laboratory procrick 1edures. Rick’s duties include instructing Year 1 and 2 dental students in laboratory procedures and dental Anatomy; working with the Year 3 and 4 students on the clinical floor working with patients (involving any procedures outside the mouth e.g., dentures; crowns; bridges and more); managing the labs, including ordering materials/supplies/equipment and attending to any and all equipment and tools maintenance and over all safety; fabricating teaching materials for pre-clinical procedures (e.g., stone models; large size teeth, jigs, molds …); creating power points and videos for lectures and to post on Blackboard; and performing lab work for patients in urgent situations or difficult circumstances.

He feels that his position is “a technician’s dream come true” to be able to “work hands-on with students” and “see the patients with the students”. His teaching motto for working with dental students is, “I will do my part to give them the right tools to become the best dentist, and they can be”.

He admits that working with young minds that have a lot of questions challenges him to think about wrick 2hat he is teaching from different angles and views and obligates him to convey this new way of thinking back to the students and to challenge them in return. His primary motivation to come to work every day is to help dental students “unlock their potential”. Many students have no idea, what they are capable of and unless challenged to push themselves, may never fully discover their talents, skills and with that, hopefully, their love for the profession. Understanding the negative effects that sick or missing teeth can have on many aspects of a person’s life will help students to truly appreciate the value of their work as a dentist. Fixing people’s teeth can help improve their lives. He hopes to instill in them the idea, that they are “one member in a team of dental professionals who need to work together as a unit to meet the needs of the patient”. His desire is to “help to develop dentists who will care about their patients and especially care about what happens to them after leaving the dental office”. Rick loves to work with his hands. He fabricates teaching materials for pre-clinical labs and often has rick 3to “create them from scratch in order to fabricate molds for the production of duplicates for students and faculty” and sometimes has to “sculpt them out of clay or wax” first. He estimates, that since he needs two models per student and models for a number of disciplines and then models for each different exercise, that he makes several hundred models per year!

Rick received the Teacher Award for Preclinical from the College of Dentistry in 2017 and 2018. He credits his educational background (4 yrs. Journeyman [Germany]; 21/2 yrs. Master Technician [Germany]; Journeyman certificate from Switzerland; 2 yrs. Journeyman [Canada]) as pivotal to his success in this unique and much needed position within the College of Dentistry. This has given him a unique perspective, as he has had the privilege of watching 8 cohorts of University of Saskatchewan dentists graduate. He takes pride in the fact that dentists in training no longer have to guess their way through assignments or not know what to do next, as he is available to provide hands-on training and guidance each and every day of the week.

As a recent member in ASPA (since November 2018), Rick appreciates knowing that he has “someone to look out for his rights”. He is also very grateful that he has been given room to grow professionally because of the professional development funds available to all ASPA members on an annual basis. This will help him further his education to help his students especially regarding new technologies. He urges all ASPA members “to never hesitate to ask advice from the ASPA office”. He appreciates the extremely friendly service he had received from Darcy Hryn – Bird and Annetta Gellner and he remarked, that “they were able to answer every question I had as a new ASPA member or connect me with someone who could get the answer for me”.

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