As a dental student, I was constantly daydreaming of the days that I would get to practice “real life” dentistry. However, with that great excitement came a lot of anxiety about what that would look like. If you’re a newer grad like me (especially a grad during the COVID days), you know all the horror stories about the first few years of being a dentist. Luckily, I had incredible mentorship throughout my dental school journey that led me to the practice I now proudly co-own with my biggest dental idol and mentor.
I come from a family of teachers and farmers, so I had no prior connection to dentistry whatsoever. I’ve had to actively seek mentorship and advice throughout my journey, which is how I’ve learned what a quality mentor-mentee relationship looks like. If you want to find a valuable mentor, here are four places where you can start!
- Search for active programs that match you with a mentor. Check both your local and state societies for a mentor matching program. Everyone who is involved wants to be involved, therefore, the quality of mentorship is better than you can get anywhere else. Plus, your initial experiences will lead you to understand what you need in a mentor, and help you create similar relationships organically later on.
- Get involved in your local dental society. Dental societies involve people from all types of practices, including specialty practices. It’s easy to access because any person who practices in the county is welcome. It’s a great place to network when looking for job opportunities and the perfect place to find other like-minded dentists who understand what it entails to work in your specific geographic area. It can even connect you to smaller group collaborations, such as a local study club.
- Find a good study club. While incredibly resourceful, a good study club is often the least accessible option for finding a mentor since many clubs are invitation only. Keep your eyes and ears open for any potential opening. Study clubs are an environment where questions are encouraged and topics such as favorite restorative products or best practice management strategies are discussed. It’s where I discovered my favorite flowable OMNICHROMA Flow!
- Get inspired on social media. If you don’t know where to start when looking for a mentor, start here. It’s the easiest way to discover your mentors for aspects both inside and outside of dentistry. Find the most successful influencers in your specific geographic area and study what draws people to their business (hairdressers, estheticians, and lash techs are all good places to start). Follow your dental role models and study their techniques. Follow the pages that are most like your “aesthetic” and match that on your own social media. Get inspired and don’t be afraid to reach out to people! Most are happy to chat or already have a wealth of information incorporated on their page.
The biggest takeaway I’ve learned as both a mentee and a mentor is to never stop learning, be generous with the knowledge you have, and to make sure you’re in consistent contact with at least one person who is better than you.
It’s truly an honor to be chosen by Tokuyama Dental America as the dentist to share both the struggles and successes of being a new, practicing dentist. Stay tuned for a wide range of relatable topics such as how to select high quality restorative products, tips on social media, and much more!