Working with an experienced team in various facets of dentistry goes a long way in persuading young talent to join a practice. Many young professionals consider mentorship as being just as important as their salary when choosing a place of employment. Forming relationships with experienced colleagues is a natural process, and these relationships can quickly evolve into mentorships regardless of what stage you’re at in your career.
But why? While some of the reasons are monetary and obvious, others are rooted in the changing expectations and desires of a new generation of practitioners as well as the expanding options offered by DSOs.
How Do You Find a Mentor?
If your employment choices are limited, or you work for a facility that doesn’t offer mentorship, you’ll need to look outside the practice for mentors. Yes, mentors plural—one person alone can’t advise you through all the challenges you’ll encounter throughout your dental career.
Aim to have three to five mentors to form a network of collaborators for yourself. Directing questions and challenges to the mentor with the right expertise serves you better than relying on the views of just one. In addition, the collective advice and different perspectives you receive from your mentors give you a broader view of the world around you—setting you up for long-term success.
You can source mentors from professional journals, a social networking platform like LinkedIn, or simply from personal connections.
Be Clear About Your Expectations
Think about what you’re looking for in a mentor and be prepared to clarify your expectations with them. Remember: these professionals are giving up their time so they can share their expertise with you. Here are a few things to consider:
- Are you just looking for some overall insight into the field?
- Do you have questions about a specific topic?
- Are you looking for a long-term partnership so you can benefit from your mentor’s knowledge again and again?
Pro Tip: Don’t allow age to be a deciding factor when choosing a mentor—Going with an older dentist with more years of experience isn’t always the right choice. Look at all aspects of their career, including staying on top of all the latest techniques, procedures, tools, and equipment.
Learn More About Yourself
Before you go searching for mentors, dig a little deeper about yourself:
- What are your future goals—where do you want to be in a year, five years, or ten years?
- What do you need to accomplish to achieve those goals?
- Your strengths
- Your weaknesses
- Your limitations
This self-awareness helps you find mentors whose experience aligns with your goals and can effectively coach, advise, and guide you.
Asking Someone To Be Your Mentor
Once you do your research and choose some potential mentors—write a professional email to them that includes:
- A short introduction about yourself
- A summary of what you’re looking for
- An invitation to discuss things further
Upon acceptance of the invitation, be open about your expectations.
What A Good Mentor Won’t Do
Emotions and egos are a large part of what makes us human, and controlling them can be difficult. Accepting the responsibility of guiding and helping a mentee with their choices and challenges throughout their career is usually a positive experience—but not always. Sometimes personalities clash, leading to adverse outcomes.
A good mentor will never:
- Break your trust or disrespect you by criticizing you in public or when with a patient
- Speak negatively about new technology—innovations only make dentistry better
- Question or put down any new techniques you use—they should show interest and want to learn it for themselves
- Make salary the priority—good dentists know that providing the best patient experience is always at the top of the list
- Deter continued education
- Dismiss any of your new ideas without giving them a second thought, or at least an explanation of why they disagree
Regardless of how many mentorships you form, your attitude is most important. Always be open-minded to change, willing to attempt new things, constructively accept criticism, and be ready for a lifetime of learning with trusted, like-minded professionals by your side.
Looking for mentorship within a new practice? Contact us!
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