Having a mentor is a great way to help you advance in your dental assisting career and identify new opportunities. You may want to turn to a mentor for a variety of reasons. For example, mentors can:
- Give you advice on how to start your dental assisting career
- Provide suggestions on how to grow your career to the next level
- Recommend how to navigate professional challenges
- Advise on how to continue your education and advance your skills
- Encourage and support you along the way
Before you begin, you should be prepared for the mentor-mentee relationship. That means, as a mentee, you should be:
- Clear on why you want a mentor and in what areas you would like guidance
- Respectful and considerate of your mentor’s time and willingness to help
- Eager to learn and open to feedback
- Ready to put in the work to advance your career
Does working with a dental assisting mentor sound like it might be right for you? If so, we’ve outlined some tips to help you find one — or become one yourself!
Start With Your Circle
The first step to find a mentor is to think about who is in your current professional circle. Ideally, your mentor should be someone you already know and have a good relationship with. This will make it easier for you to begin to ask this person for professional guidance.
Consider An Educator
If you’re currently enrolled in a dental assisting program, you may want to reach out to one of your instructors for some additional feedback. This mentorship relationship can be informal — such as asking for additional help when you need it. Or, the relationship can be more involved, such as working with your teacher to help you find that first job. And if you already graduated from a dental assisting program, you may want to get back in touch with a favorite instructor to see if he or she might want to meet for coffee and share any professional advice.
Connect With An Office Manager
If you work with or know a dental office manager, this could be an ideal person to help you navigate your career. Dental office managers may be in charge of hiring for the dental team and can provide unique insights on what can make you more valuable to the practice. The dental office manager is likely very busy during the day, so consider scheduling a lunch break or time after work to discuss career topics that may be on your mind.
Turn To The Dentist
Many dental assistants have said their dentist employer was the one who mentored them and encouraged them to reach for their professional dreams. So, if you work for a dentist who is willing to spend extra time with you to explain procedures or train you in new areas, this could be an ideal mentorship scenario. The benefit to having your dentist be your mentor is that you can directly link what you learn to the day-to-day activities in the dental practice.
Continue Your Growth
Finding a mentor can be as easy as looking around the dental office. You may even realize that you have already had a mentor along the way in your career. Most of all, continue seeking out inspiring people in your professional circle, and your career will continue to grow. And if you’re the one in the office with more experience, consider taking a newer dental assistant under your wing.
You can also find a mentor in a respected friend or family member who works outside oral healthcare and can provide other types of encouragement and guidance in leadership, communications and professionalism. And people are usually flattered to be asked!
Have you ever had a mentor or been a mentor? Tell us in the comments!