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Robert Felthousen

Instructor helped train many Rogue Valley dental assistants

Robert Felthousen, who started teaching Dental Assistant classes at Rogue Community College in 2001, has helped train a cadre of folks now serving patients in southern Oregon.

“I really enjoy working with students one-on-one,” Felthousen said. “There’s probably no better moment than when you witness a student’s ‘a-ha!’ moment – that time when content that was once inscrutable is suddenly, almost magically, understandable. It’s wonderful to then watch students interact and explore concepts together and how they teach and learn from each other.”

RCC dental assisting graduate Kendra Arnold says Felthousen played a key role in helping her prepare for a job and thrive in the workplace.

“All the teachers were great but Robert was particularly helpful. I really appreciated all he did. The way he taught made it easy, and I just got it,” said Arnold, who works for a Grants Pass clinic.

Before joining RCC, Felthousen worked as a dental assistant. He has an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree from Rogue and earned a bachelor’s degree at Southern Oregon University. Felthousen also earned a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Washington and works as a reference and instructional librarian at RCC’s Riverside Campus.

Kendra Arnold discovered a new career through RCC

Kendra Arnold was searching for new career opportunities when she spotted an RCC class schedule; the cover photo featured a young woman who’d trained as a dental assistant at Rogue and loved her job.

Researching the field, Arnold realized it offered what she was looking for: a living wage, helping others, and no need to relocate her two children to get the training.

“I thought, ‘That’s perfect for me!’” recalled Arnold, who previously worked as a nurse’s aide until injuring her back. Before she could start the program, however, she had to pass the GED exam and then complete prerequisites.

“When I came to RCC, everyone was wonderful. I did better than I expected, got my GED, and enjoyed taking the prereqs.” She especially appreciated a speech class, taught by RCC Humanities instructor Bobbi Kidder, which helped bring Arnold out of her shell.

“It’s an important skill,” Arnold said, adding that she uses daily the lessons learned in speech class. Arnold also praised the dental lab on the RCC Riverside Campus. “Those are great, beautiful facilities and knowledgeable instructors with years of experience,” she said. “I learned what I needed to work in the field.”

Dental instructor Robert Felthousen was particularly helpful, she added. “I really appreciated all he did. The way he taught made it easy; I just got it.”

Arnold’s enrollment at RCC set a good example for her son and daughter, now 10 and 14. “I have always instilled in them that it’s ‘when you go to college, not if,’” Arnold explained. “Seeing me having to start over made them realize we don’t live in a world where you can get a good job without education.”

Arnold graduated in 2010 and is working for Dr. Nathan Tanner in Grants Pass. “I love working with patients and relaxing them, joking with them to help them overcome fears and relax,” she said.

Encouraged by her boss, Arnold is taking lots of continuing education credits. She also volunteers with UCAN’s mobile dentistry lab and hopes to help out with RCC program.

“I tell younger girls to check out RCC,” Arnold said. “I encourage them to drive to RCC and go in and talk with someone. I tell them ‘You can go to school and change your life.’”

Have a story idea for the website? Please E-mail Rand Hill

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