Dimensions’ Brand Ambassador Susan Buchenberger, MEd, BSDH, RDH, an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Comprehensive Oral Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry, offers ideas on where and how to find a mentor.
In my last post, “Why You Need A Mentor,” I addressed all of the reasons why dental hygiene students and dental hygiene grads need to lockdown a mentor. Now, let’s figure out how to help you find one!
So, how do you find a mentor?
1. Adjunct faculty. Begin with your adjunct faculty from hygiene school. Often, they may have years of experience in private practice and more time to assist you. They understand “real world” hygiene outside academia. They also may still be working part-time like myself and know of available positions.
2. Local study clubs. Look for hygiene study clubs in your area and join. Not only will you gain continuing education (CE) opportunities, but this is a perfect place to meet other hygienists and establish a relationship. Some study clubs recognize new graduates and welcome them. Currently, most study clubs are meeting virtually. The coordinator of the group can connect you with seasoned hygienists if you ask. Just Google “dental hygiene study clubs near me” for a list in your area.
3. Join the local American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) component. Each state has local hygiene components. Some have their own Facebook or Instagram page. Visit their website to find meeting times and places, as well as a list of officers. Don’t be shy. Reach out with an email. I’m sure any officer would be able to provide advice and possibly become a mentor. Find your local ADHA chapter here.
4. Hygiene chats. Many groups use social media for membership. Questions are always posted. This is a good resource, especially for remote areas. I’m a Colgate Oral Health Advisor member, which has its own Facebook page. This was very helpful to me during 2020 as I was able to see what new procedures were being implemented.
5. Volunteer at local clinics. Local hygiene organizations should have information on volunteer opportunities. My favorite online resources are Mission of Mercy and Baptists on Mission. The Missions of Mercy clinics are usually set up in local schools or churches whereas the Baptists on Mission is a dental bus with everything you need including instruments, X-rays, sterilization, and supplies. They just need your skills. Serving the community together is a perfect place to find a mentor as there is often time to talk throughout the day in a relaxed atmosphere.
6.Your family dental office You probably admired the hygienist or dentist you had growing up. Perhaps, she/he even influenced your decision to pursue dentistry as a career. Reach out to them. It is a compliment to them and they will help you.
There are so many places where you can find a mentor; you just need to be ready to put yourself out there. Trust me, it’s worth it!