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Community Highlights: Meet Gaby Barsh of Utah Valley Dental Assisting

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gaby Barsh.

Hi Gaby, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
My name is Gaby, I was born in Guatemala. When I was 6 yrs old my family had the opportunity to come to the U.S. to live the American dream with freedoms and opportunities. Right out of high school, I wanted to work so I could make enough money to help pay my semester in college, so I enrolled in a dental assisting course. But when I graduated, I didn’t feel prepared enough to enter the workforce since most of what we learned was from books. We did not have a dedicated clinic and never worked with a dentist. Flash forward several years, I ended up graduating with a bachelor in science in dental hygiene from UCDH in Orem, UT. I began working as a dental hygienist with the highly skilled Dr. Hilton and a dental assistant named Kelsie. Kelsie inspired me to start a dental assisting school because she had a different approach to training new assistants and I wanted to create a school and program I wish I had. She became our 1st instructor and I asked Dr. Hilton to partner with me. Our goal was to have a non-traditional classroom and be a step above the rest, with students actually learning what they needed to know to work as dental assistants. Each class and every term, we would provide training via hands on with a dentist in an actual dental clinic. Initially, I did not want to work with a dentist who had a running dental practice or a dentist that just had a school as a side hobby. I wanted a dentist to dedicate himself to our school and care for the students and help them individually as I would. In 2016, we created Utah Valley Dental Assisting (UVDA). I worked tirelessly to help with marketing and operations. I eventually had to quit my dental hygiene position to dedicate myself full time to UVDA. Dr. Hilton would spend a majority of his nights helping the students with hands on as well as operations. Today, we would not be where we are without our Program Director Nikki. 5 years later, we have an amazing school, incredible staff, dentists and the best students! We focus on providing a better future and careers in dentistry for many people. I can definitely say I am living the American dream co-running this business with the dentist, and with the help of Nikki. The 3 of us are an amazing team and we all care so much about the students and UVDA. We help change so many lives for the better.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The biggest challenges are balancing our dentist’s schedules as we provide discounted dental work and free dental work often after hours. Dr. Hilton is a sought after dentist, so he travels outside of Utah to provide dental work for another company. For that reason we have other local dentists help us. Managing other dentist’s schedules around our school and students has been challenging, but not impossible. Thankfully we have been able to find skilled and kind dentists.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
UVDA is an amazing hands-on dental assisting school! We are so proud to be a 5 star Google rated school.  We work hard to help people fulfill their goals and pursuits. We strive to better our students through educational experiences both in and out of the classroom and within a real dental clinic. And not just textbooks. We aim to create a haven where students gain newfound confidence and are able to tackle their fears and accomplish goals.

We are a step above the rest because if the dentist sees any dental patients it is only for the students and the dentist(s) only performs dental work if a student is able to assist them. I don’t think any other school in the state does that. As I mentioned before, our dentist offers discounted dental work or free dental work or payment plans for those who cannot afford to pay up front. Presently, he does not accept dental insurance at UVDA. We are different from other schools because we have a licensed dentist, dental hygienist and dental assistant running the school at all times, we all answer the phones anytime of the day.

We have students who have moved from out of state to Utah to join our dental assisting program. We have even been able to train foreign dentists that are unable to practice in the U.S. We have had dentists from Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico enroll in our program. We have had students from Hawaii, Wyoming, California, Arizona, Montana, Idaho and Virginia move here to attend our program.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
We have provided over 500 free dental exams to people in our community! This not only helps the community but our students as well.

Surprisingly, we haven’t had to offer any major discounts because we offer so much value to our students and we know our worth. Tuition is affordable and we offer 0% interest pay as you go options.

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