How to Become a Mentor to a Dental Student

Posted by on Oct 20, 2021 9:00:00 AM

A successful mentoring relationship between an experienced dentist and one just entering the field can positively impact a person’s career, possibly even change their life! If you’re looking to become a mentor to a dental student, here are five things to consider: 

1. Ensure You Can Commit

Before you indicate your availability to mentor a dental student, consider how much time and energy you can and are willing to invest. 

A mentorship is an impactful experience for the student, so you'll be spending quite a bit of time together. As a mentor, you will provide them with information, advice, and resources as they grow into their career and develop as a person.

These commitments, of course, are for both you and your mentee, so it’s important to make sure you’ll have the ability to create a quality relationship before each of you agrees to the mentorship.

2. Determine What You’re Looking for in a Mentee

You likely have an idea of what kind of person you want to mentor. 

Maybe you want to mentor someone who went to the same dental school as you did. Or, maybe a young dentist who recently joined your practice is looking for guidance as they begin their career. 

Mentorship doesn't have to wait until the person is working as a dentist. It can start as early as dental school and be a significant experience in the trajectory of that student's career. 

You may want to mentor a student at your practice, which is helpful for providing them with day-to-day experience they can expect once they’ve completed school. Look for a mentee who will benefit from your style of mentoring and is enthusiastic about the relationship. 

3. Look for Nearby Mentorship Programs 

If you’re located near a dental school, you may consider reaching out to inquire about any mentorship programs they may have. You can also reach out to your alma mater if you live nearby; it could be easier to become a mentor there since you already have an existing relationship with that school. 

While you’re thinking about which schools to reach out to, it’s important to consider how long it might take you or your mentee to commute for meetings with one another, shadow days, and more. 

Once you’ve reached out to the school you’re interested in, ask questions about their mentorship program and learn about past mentors, especially if this is going to be your first mentoring experience. 

4. Set Expectations for the Mentorship

When you identify a person you’re interested in mentoring, you’ll want to meet with them to discuss what they’re looking for in this relationship. These expectations might include what they’re looking to get out of the mentorship,  where you’ll meet, how often you’ll meet, how often they’ll come to your practice, and more. 

Setting these expectations before you begin the mentorship is a great way to ensure you’re going to be a good fit for one another. 

5. Establish & Grow the Relationship

Once you and your mentee have agreed on the mentorship, it’s time to begin and enjoy this relationship. 

While this is a professional relationship, there are aspects that could be viewed as more personal. For example, your mentee could ask about how you maintain a work-life balance, which could lead to conversations about your lives outside of dentistry. 

There are many dentists, however, who are more comfortable with relationships similar to those they have with their patients.  Either way, make sure to keep clear boundaries with your mentee. 

These mentorships are wonderful ways to improve the student’s experience in dental school, allow them to ask questions they may otherwise not even know they have, and provide them with an inside look into the field they’re about to enter. 

In addition to sharing your knowledge, you also gain experience with people management. 

Mentoring and Managing as a Dentist

Management is an important component of any dental practice; you’ll need the right knowledge to hire your staff and manage your practice in order to grow your business.

If you’re looking to grow your skills in this area, our free e-book on how to manage people in your dental practice can help. Get your copy today to learn about attracting and maintaining the right people for your staff, creating a patient-centric culture, and more.


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