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What Is Reverse Mentoring? How Does It Boost Your Career?

Jan 12, 2018

Author: Mandy Dennis, RDH

What is reverse mentoring? The name suggests it's a way for the teacher to be taught by the student, but it's so much more than that. Reverse mentoring means that two people can give and receive knowledge so both become better at what they do. It's a way to ignite a dental hygienist's passion and to learn new skills to better patient care.

Why It Works

Reverse mentoring pairs professionals to bridge the generational gap. Dental hygienists attend continuing education courses and learn from people who have been in the profession for a long time. However, have you considered what you could learn from your newest colleagues, or what you, as a new worker, could bring to the table?

Seasoned hygienists may perform their duties in a superb fashion, but may also have lost touch with why they entered the field. They may also get stuck in the daily monotony of care and may not have explored the newest technology that many newer hygienists may know. There's opportunity, then, for new and experienced dental hygienists to help each other.

Forbes notes that reverse mentoring works if you have defined expectations, agreed-upon rules, a willingness to learn, trust and transparency.

Fostering New Ideas

The dental hygiene world doesn't look the same as it did 20 years ago. So, to keep up with the evolution, you must be open to new ideas. Reverse mentoring can open the minds of veteran dental hygienists to approach their careers differently.

New graduates can learn from those who have years of experience. On the other hand, new graduates have a fresh set of ideas they can share. With technology and new practices recently learned in school, newer hygienists can add valuable insight to existing care routines.

Providing Accountability

The AARP states that reverse mentoring should last from six months to two years. Accountability to a partner for this length of time can help you follow through on the ideas you discussed and become proficient in new skills. With constant mentoring, you can help each other improve. Each mentor and mentee must bring something to the relationship. Professional respect for each other is necessary, and can grow as you bridge the gap in what you know and what you can learn.

How to Get Involved

Get involved in local programs and schools. If your office is hiring, ask to be involved in the hiring process to meet new people and ask about their ideas on patient care. Attend CE classes on new topics and ask questions. If you are a new hygienist, look for someone who is in a position you would like to achieve yourself in a few years. Ask questions and begin sharing ideas on professional growth. Both of you could find yourselves ignited with a renewed passion for your patients and profession.


  • Trust your mentor! You can't grow if you can't be honest about opportunities for improvement.
  • Be open to ideas to bridge the gap between new and seasoned professionals. Dental hygienists have so much to learn from one another.
  • Follow through with what you have learned from your mentor.

Why It's Important

Dental hygiene technology and best practices are always evolving. While continuing education classes can help keep you informed, your young colleagues' perspectives have a lot to offer you, too. Partner with another dental hygienist who can help you learn and see things from a different perspective. You may become a better dental hygienist because of it.

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