What is a Mentor?
Often overused and abused, the concept of mentoring captures a significant role in the field of dentistry. Too often, we take for granted the native benefits and attributes of effective leadership. Anxious to swipe the coveted diploma and jettison for some storybook hamlet, the ascension to a doctorate in dentistry functions upon a binary scale. Suddenly paroled, this marks the commencement of a quaternary existence virtually absent of any previous insights other than what preamble or nascent narrative was deployed in the ivory test tube. Any notion of preparedness associated with the process is perhaps a measurable false positive. Taking the time to consistently invest back into oneself will prove to be one of the most invaluable deployments of capital over the course of a career.
Once unshackled from the educational arena, one must quickly aspire toward rather entrepreneurial rules intrinsic to the business of dentistry. Suddenly, in flow all the misconstrued essentials of oral health care as it relates to optimizing the operation of a dental practice. Many of the elements associated with individuality, lockdown of trade secrets, and general ill-will pessimism circulated amongst the rank and file rapidly invoke a bearish sentiment. With the level of business acumen and sophistication in play today, there may not be another moment in the history of dentistry where the marketplace has been more fluid and malleable for those who are qualified to participate. Because of the level of stability and predictability at its core, dentistry carries an inordinate attraction for outsiders lured in to try and tap the walled garden’s virtues. Taking inventory of the privilege at hand will deliver a realization that opportunity abounds.
Finding Your Mentor
Rather than clutching feverishly onto the marble bag as if the playground bully is about to swipe it, the opportunity to open up the playbook and introduce a more collective and inclusive perspective is paramount. Inherently a solo game, dentistry often leaves a practitioner and/or practice owner alone to slay the dragon. Uncertainty rules the day of late, and there is no shortage of macroeconomic forces to contend with. Thankfully, the invaluable elements of fellowship as legislated by a healthy mentoring program. The true grit, mental levity, and backbone to step out of the comfort zone and push the frontier is precisely what effective mentoring provides. Whether en-masse, small group, or one on one, the symbiosis between mentor and mentee(s) is palatable. Even the most accomplished leaders acknowledge the benefit of guidance and insight from their predecessors. This in turn will unfold a ton of times for the willing recipient.
From a practical perspective, the search for a qualified mentorship commences with an honest degree of self-awareness and clarity upon one’s true learning style, intentions, and commitment. A willingness to actively engage in collaborative learning formats whether upon a group or solo platform is a prerequisite. As for the mentor, an unconditional insistence for perpetually challenging the frontier while maintaining active listenership, frequent accountability, and routine availability is foundational. The confluence promotes a collective degree of engagement and education whereby both the mentor and mentee benefit. In the end, the decision to solicit the benefits of mentorship rest upon the intrinsic value of the trade. When both parties are vested, the outcomes are outstanding. Having another set of seasoned ears to listen and eyes to pour over the details will serve an invaluable purpose.