Finding a mentor is invaluable when you are a new dental hygienist. A mentor with several years of experience can show you the ins and outs of the industry and help get your career off to a fast start. Below are suggestions on how to find a mentor and ways you can benefit from the relationship.
The Real World
Graduating with a degree in dental hygiene is great, but what next? Joining the "real world" as a new dental hygienist can be daunting. A mentor who has been working in the field can help you adapt to the work environment and develop professional skills that are not taught in school. Ideally, you want to feel comfortable confiding in this person, too. She or he can offer advice about job negotiations, how to communicate with coworkers, and will also support your continuing education and help you bridge the gap between the educational and professional setting.
Where Are These Mentors?
So where do you find a mentor? A good starting point is to search your local dental hygiene association. Experienced dental hygienists attend meetings and know the importance of having a mentor. Some local associations even have an organized mentorship program. Members of the American Dental Hygienists' Association are particularly knowledgeable as they keep up with current regulations pertaining to dental hygiene treatment.
Another way to find a mentor is to subscribe to dental journals. If there are articles that spark your interest, reach out to the author or to the publication. It may feel like a long shot, but a thoughtful email correspondence can turn into a mentorship opportunity if the two of you click.
Social Media Mentors
Online resources may be helpful in finding a mentor. Dental hygienists can join an online RDH community, such as the COHA Closed Group Facebook Community. This forum allows hygienists to chat about issues and concerns in a closed environment. Colgate Oral Health Advisoris a website that offers strong support on dental hygiene topics.
- A good mentor can help you improve your communication with your coworkers and guide your professional development.
- Look for a mentor that you're comfortable confiding in.
- Social media can be a great source to make connections with potential mentors.
Why is it Valuable?
Not only does the mentee benefit from a seasoned professional's guidance, but the mentor gains something from the relationship as well. Mentoring fellow dental hygienists is rewarding because the know-how you impart instills important values in the new members of our community, thus laying a strong foundation for the future of the dental hygiene profession.