By: James Wanamaker
Mentorship is one of the most important ingredients to a successful dental career.
But what is mentorship, really? In my view, mentorship involves any connection which brings your
education or career further than it would have been without.
That can extend to educators, bosses, colleagues — pretty much anyone you meet on your dental journey.
These people can offer a lot of guidance, helping you become a better dentist and hone in on what you’d actually like to do in your career.
What to Look for in a Dental Mentor & Where to Find One
If you’re a young dentist or a student, finding a good mentor is absolutely essential.
But what do you look for in a mentor? And where do you find one?
One crucial thing to ponder is the person’s career trajectory. If a person has been in the business for decades running a successful practice and you could imagine yourself being happy where they are one day, that person will definitely have some good advice.
Even if someone took a path you could never see yourself in — cosmetic dentistry if you want to work in pediatrics, for example — there might be a lot of overlap that you can learn from.
Social Media Connections
Remember that it’s becoming easier to reach out to possible mentors every day.
With social media and the advent of remote work, making a connection can take just a matter of minutes.
Organized dentistry, local dental societies, and study clubs are all great places to find like-minded peers who would be happy to provide advice.
Be bold! Even if you just pick their brain for a moment, it can be good to learn from their experience, whether that involves the successes they’ve had or the mistakes they’ve made.
Remember to Offer Mentorship as Well
Another crucial thing to keep in mind is that you have an obligation to continue the traditions of
mentorship in dentistry.
Advice in this field is like a well. Everyone has to take some water from the well so they can learn and move forward, but if no one gives back, the well dries up.
If you’ve received guidance from someone in your dental journey — and pretty much everyone has
— you should, at some point, return the favor to people who need your advice
Luckily, you don’t need to have your own practice or a decades-long career to give good advice; even if
you’re still in school, you can offer some worthwhile guidance to those around you.
Consider Looking for a Dental Mentor
So no matter where you find yourself in your dental journey, consider looking for a mentor.
It’s never been easier to reach out and connect with people whose work you respect — just
remember to be grateful for their time and appreciate the value of what they’re sharing.
You might be surprised at how willing people are to help!
Up Next: How To Find a Dental Mentor
Photo by Mike Jones