The Importance of a Mentor in the Dental World

5 Reasons to Mentor or be a Mentee

Dentistry is a unique sector of medicine because it combines an educational background in the biology and science of dentistry with specific technical skills. Dental school is a time to establish great relationships and mentorships between professors, dental attendings, and students. One of the greatest things about dentistry is the field is constantly evolving and dentists will always need to take continuing education courses and refresh their skills to keep up with the latest advances. 

There are many reasons why a dentist may look for a mentor. Even after decades of practice, dentists still learn new things from patients and their dental team. It’s also easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of your practice and not give a thought to your broader connection with the industry. Mentoring is a way you can connect with your professional field and identify ways you can expand your knowledge and skills. Some of the greatest benefits of mentoring in the dental community or becoming a mentee include the following.

1. A mentor understands you.

It is hard to relate to someone on a professional level unless you have both been through the trials of dental school, residency, associate positions, and dental ownership. While you can discuss patient issues with other professionals, only other dentists will truly understand the stresses that are associated with the field. When you find a mentor or become one for new dentists, you will be on common ground and able to work through the unique challenges of your profession that only another dentist might understand. 

2. A mentor can give valuable feedback.

There is no better way to enhance your dental skills than by getting constructive criticism from a dental mentor. Mentees can learn from a professional in the field by discussing treatment plans, patient problems, and even successes. Sometimes it is hard to see another avenue of treatment until you communicate with a seasoned dentist because they’ve sat in your seat before. It’s also a safe space to bounce ideas around or workshop a proposed treatment plan. 

3. A mentee can develop new skills.

Once dental school and residency is complete, it can be difficult to learn new skills. Taking continuing education courses is a must to improve and learn new dental techniques, but learning under a mentor is also invaluable. A general dentist can suggest paths and skills you may not learn at dental school, like general dentist orthodontics. Learning to apply orthodontic treatment or a similar skill can completely change the trajectory of your career, but until you get an adviser you may never think to apply these additional treatment options to your practice or skill set. 

Mentees can learn techniques like applying orthodontics to general practice, but they can also learn about all of the multi-disciplinary facets of dentistry, like education, dental research, and public health. There are so many career avenues out of the operatory that a dentist can take advantage of, but may not be totally aware of without a guide.  

4. A mentor can inspire confidence.

A mentor is a role model who can help a newer dentist seek their highest career potential. Whether a new dentist aspires to be a dental owner or remain an associate, an adviser can help their mentee take advantage of their strengths and work on their weaknesses. Mentors can have an everlasting effect on a dentist, whether it is clinically related or simply just advice on how to run a successful practice. 

Mentoring is not limited to simply running a practice. Dental mentoring can range from learning how to choose valuable continuing education courses to understanding the best ways to pay off student loans. According to Dental Entrepreneur, the results of a 2014 Gallup poll reports that “graduates who had a professor who care[d] about them as a person – or had an adviser who encouraged their goals and dreams, and/or had an internship where they applied what they were learning – were twice as likely to be engaged with their work and thriving in their overall well-being.” 

5. A mentee can help you reflect on your own career.

After many years of practice, what better way to give back to the dental community than help a “green” dentist or a dentist looking for a mentor develop a visionary plan for their career? There is a type of synergy in dentistry among dentists because they have been down the same road to achieving a dental degree. It can be empowering for a mentor to teach another dentist and will help you reflect on all the highs and lows you experienced throughout your career. 

A dental mentorship is an incredible way to develop a professional and personal social networking support system. A mentor can benefit by passing on their knowledge and experience to a newer dentist. They can also challenge a dentist to learn beneficial skills like orthodontics or practice management skills. A mentee’s career can be forever changed by having an enthusiastic and encouraging guide to instill self-confidence in them.

Once you have a mentor-mentee relationship, you’ll learn invaluable lessons and it can be gratifying to absorb information from a colleague. More than ever though, you’ll learn about your full potential as a dentist and how, ultimately, being your own mentor will guide you through a meaningful career.

To learn more about our popular orthodontics courses for pediatric and general dentists, check out one of the upcoming events below.

March 1-2, 2024

AOS Event Center
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

1st Session: March 8-10, 2024

AOS Event Center
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

April 12-13, 2024

AOS Event Center
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

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