Tools of the trade: Carrie Zarzycki, dental assistant


by Dr Matthew Nangle, Everton Park Dental, QLD

I had a prior career as a neuroscientist at Sydney University for about seven years. I left that to become a dentist and only finished my training in 2015. Everton Park Dental was the first practice to employ me and it was here that I met dental assistant Carrie Zarzycki. Working with someone as experienced and empathic as Carrie is invaluable in making me a better dentist.

What’s good about it

Carrie has the ability to salvage situations when things just aren’t going to plan. This is particularly true when dealing with young children who have behavioural issues or are just acting the clown. She calms and controls the patient so I can actually do my job.

Traditionally, dentists think of an assistant as someone who just passes the instruments but Carrie is so much more than that. There are frequent challenges with adults and children and I’ve had adults break down in tears. It really helps to have someone as empathic as Carrie who isn’t a dentist.

I value her experience as a long-term dental assistant—she’s done and seen it all whereas I’m just starting out. I’ve only been working as a dentist for the past year and it’s a lifesaver to learn from someone so experienced.

Carrie never sits passively—she gets involved with the whole patient care and treatment.

As a dentist, it’s all too easy to forget about the background work such as dealing with patient queries, making bookings and the sterilisation of instruments. I appreciate that it’s all being done properly so I don’t even have to think about it.

I guess I just want to say, ‘Thank you, Carrie’.

What’s not so good

Carrie’s only negative is that she’s a bit of a germaphobe. While that’s a very good thing in regard to dentistry and running a modern clean practice, it also means I can’t leave dirty dishes in the kitchen!

Where did you get it

She was at the practice when I first started.

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  1. Great tribute to Carrie! The value of an experienced, emotionally intelligent assistant is immeasurable. They are a rare breed. Take care of her. She will always make you look good.

  2. Wonderful to read this tribute.
    A well trained and experienced dental assistant will be the best (at least equal to the best) asset a dental practitioner will ever encounter in their career. Please never take your dental assistant for granted – as they can make or break you. They’ll provide you with dental assisting knowledge and expertise, well developed communication and interpersonal skills and sound organizational abilities – required for an effective, efficient, harmonious, smooth running dental surgery/work-place.
    Please include your dental assistant in relevant communications/decisions in the workplace – always start each day with a courteous good morning greeting and at the end of each day a sincere ‘thank you’, and when applicable, special acknowledgement for any special efforts/work achieved.
    Happy and enjoyable work days ahead!


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