If you are planning a dental career, you need a good mentor to guide your path. A mentor offers you helpful information to shape your career successfully. Mentors share their knowledge, wisdom and experience; helping you to assess your strengths and weaknesses in dental profession and sometimes personally.
According to 2014 Gallup polls, a good mentor can make a significant impact on a students’ career and overall well being. The results were based on feedback from close to one million Americans of varying ages and with different educational backgrounds.
Finding a mentor can be challenging but the payoff can be great. A mentor can help you with practice management, interpersonal skills and real world experience that would not be normally taught in a dental school. He or she can help motivate and inspire you to keep going when times are tough and can help you see the ‘big picture’. A mentor can help and guide you discover the best easiest way of doing professional things and will help you to avoid learning lessons the hard way.
Qualities of a Mentor
- Dental mentors should have good names and reputations among the dental community. A great mentor will be at the top of the respect chain, a young dentist should look for this in whomever he or she chooses to look to for advice.
- A mentor should have professional and personal stability. Dentistry involves hard work, and we should not stop learning. Maintaining professional and personal stability are crucial for overall health. Stability keeps the practice on an even wheel, minimising the lows and making it easier to achieve sustainable growth.
- A mentor will be able to teach you many techniques which help you increase patient flow and enhance your professional skills. There are many available practice-management groups/study clubs that can assist you in establishing a practice.
- Young dentists should look for accessibility and would face a myriad of new problems and issues. They are usually not secure in their clinical abilities or skills, and mentors can help them overcome their insecurities and avoid the various pitfalls they encountered in their early days of practice.
Dentists who become involved in various community outreach programs, civic programs and local dental societies help establish their names in the public and show they are involved members of their hometowns. Patients usually prefer this kind of personal relationship and association with their dentist — having your name out there maintains a lasting bond which, in turn, strengthens the patient–dentist relationship.
Young dental entrepreneurs may have to contact their mentors at any time, so connecting without fear of the mentor looking down on them or speaking to them in a condescending manner is important. For some clinicians, it means face-to-face meetings on a regular basis. For others, communication via texts email and few face-to-face interactions may be more realistic.
If you’re seeking a mentor, there are a variety of resources to consider. You can start by talking to a dentist in your community or contact your state dental association/organizations. By associating with a professional organisation, it is more likely that you will be introduced to professional experts who may be made available to mentor you or who may know someone who could serve as your perfect mentor.
Role of a mentor in shaping your career
While many of us have been inspired by any individual/team of mentors, the inspiration or guidance can help a young budding clinician in several ways:
- Development of an effective career plan
- Guidance in selecting the best subject/specialty for higher studies keeping your clinical skills, ability in mind
- Learning management skills to run your new clinical practice
- A successful mentor can be presumed to have good business and communication skills too
- For post graduates, your department guide is the key person in guiding you with publications/thesis/articles.
How to choose the best mentor for yourself?
Look for the best CDE Programmes/Comprehensive Courses/Fellowships/International Certification Courses.
Always remember, a great clinician does not necessarily make the best of a mentor; neither a top mentor essentially needs to be super successful clinician in private practice.
The term ‘Mentor’ refers to someone who can train, guide you with clinical & business skills, thereby bringing the best out of you.
Now with the boom of short courses, workshops & many unauthorized Hands-On training sessions it may be difficult to score out a genuinely expert & experienced mentor. So try checking credentials of the Mentors/Professors, before joining any course/Postgraduate specialty.
Mentor – Student Relationship
Mentoring is relationship-oriented; it seeks to provide a safe environment where the mentee shares whatever issues affect their professional and personal success. To be helpful, mentoring requires time in which both partners can learn about one another and build a climate of trust. This in turn creates an environment in which the mentee can feel secure in sharing the real issues that impact their success.
Mentoring is never one-sided. It should be based on mutual understanding where responsibilities and arrangements are clearly understood and documented.
Two sides of the story
The role of mentor can be immensely satisfying and watching someone grow and reflect on their own learning and development can be an enhancing experience.
The benefits of mentoring include gaining insight into the mentee’s background and history, as well as enjoying the satisfaction of sharing expertise and experience.
For the mentee, there are many rewards. Learning from the mentor’s expertise, receiving constructive criticism in key areas like communication and interpersonal relationships, as well as acquiring specific skills and knowledge that are relevant to personal goals in order to develop that all-important insight. It can also be a great bonus to have a trusted person with whom to share frustrations as well as successes.
Mentoring should be based on mutual understanding where responsibilities and arrangements are clearly understood and documented. Proper remuneration should be agreed in advance and outcomes monitored through recognised assessment methods, any expectations should be reasonable and achievable.
There is obviously a duty of care involved in the relationship and while each individual practitioner has responsibility for patients in whose treatment they are involved, mentors should be aware that there could be assumed an ethical dimension even when they are not treating the patient personally, and that as a result there could possibly be implications if there are adverse outcomes.
Article on Dental Mentors, Archives Summer 2017
Mentors Improve your chances of Success
Vol.99 | Issue 5
Importance of Mentors in Dentistry
Dental Products Report