Associate Professor of Dental Assisting
Lynn Murray was a science-loving student in high school, fascinated by the field of
zoology. But fate has a way of moving stars, shifting paths, and, at the suggestion
of her guidance counselor, she embarked on an on-the-job learning experience as a
dental assistant with a local practice near her Bay Area home. She loved it—helping
patients, soothing worries, improving lives—and built a career from that bootstrap
Fast-forward to today, where Lynn has a master's degree in education and is an associate professor of Dental Assisting, helping oversee the active program that she helped construct from the ground up, starting in 1997. It began in an after-hours dental office, where night classes were the norm, and it continues in today's state-of-the-art facility in the Health Careers Center at COCC, where even visiting dentists eye the training equipment with envy.
Part of the success of the program, Lynn explains, comes from a partnership with area dentists who allow students to intern in their dental offices. It also comes from a relationship with Deschutes County Health Services, which connects low-income patients to a low-cost dental clinic at COCC, where students assist volunteer dentists—putting them on the front lines, growing their skills and confidence.
"Our assistants are very successful and the dentists appreciate how well-trained they are," says Lynn. "We're very blessed to have students who are interested and motivated. It's really exciting to see how engaged they are, asking questions, using their critical-thinking skills. To see their love for dentistry developing, it's pretty cool."