November 2019 Volume LIV Number 6

 
 
 
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A Message from Your President

September 2019 Volume LIV Number 5

Representing Our Profession Through Mentoring
 
I believe that each person looks at the word mentoring and thinks of it in their own way, primarily depending on expectations or experiences. This is a very natural and logical way to develop a viewpoint. When I think of mentoring, primarily due to my career in academia, I envision teaching students to become competent or even excel in both didactic and clinical education. Basically, clinical techniques are demonstrated to students to provide a positive out- come for disease that was diagnosed through what was taught in the didactic curriculum. Then I look to mentoring students in research, which would include the development of an idea, the approach
to evaluate a hypothesis created for the idea and then pursuing a research methodology that can have an outcome to prove the hypothesis correct or not. Of course, the mentorship does not stop there; research techniques with specialized equipment, statistical understanding, and presenting findings in writing for publication or verbal presentation continue with the mentoring process. Then, as an administrator, I expanded my view of mentoring to help with the development of faculty in teaching and research, which prepares them to advance in academic rank.
 
Mentoring, as defined in the Cambridge English Dictionary, is the act or process of helping and giving advice to a younger or less experienced person, especially in a job or school. So, mentoring can really occur anywhere, at any time.
 
Where do you, as a pediatric dentist, fit into the mentoring scenario?
 
Advanced Education in Pediatric Dentistry Students/Residents
In pediatric dentistry, students and/or residents mentor predoc- toral dental students. This can be through teaching, as the Commis- sion on Dental Accreditation (CODA) has a standard for teaching. Predoctoral dental students relate well with pediatric dentistry residents because the age difference is not typically as large with residents compared to faculty. The teaching performed can pique the interest of predoctoral students and they may consider a career in pediatric dentistry. Information about programs the residents interviewed with can be helpful as predoctoral students search for the pediatric dentistry program that best fits them. Likewise, second and third year postdoctoral pediatric dentistry students mentor first year postdoctoral students. This mentoring process is a natural occurrence and is very valuable in the development of a future pediatric dentist.

Early Career Pediatric Dentists (less than 10 years post-graduation)
Pediatric dentists that are relatively new graduates have the abil- ity to mentor new graduates. This can be sharing information about working as an associate or becoming a partner in private practice. Working in public health in community clinics or federally qualified health centers can be discussed through mentoring. Possibilities in corporate practices can also be offered through mentoring. What insurance a new pediatric dentist should obtain and the business aspect of practices can be shared, all through mentoring.
 
Experienced Pediatric Dentists
Experienced pediatric dentists have a wealth of information they can share, from helping young pediatric dentists become involved   in local dental organizations to offering advice from their years of experience in business and patient care. Pediatric dentists that have been involved in organized dentistry at the board level can mentor younger pediatric dentists on the best way to become involved in committee/council levels of dental organizations, which can lead to being considered for board positions.
 
Yes, all of you can play an important part in mentoring! I have been fortunate to have many mentors over my career, including great parents, academicians, researchers and most of all, pediatric dentists! Please sign up to be a mentor when requested by AAPD. The experience is very rewarding and you will make another friend that will thank you from the bottom of their heart. Remember, you can be a positive mentor, even when you are not specifically asked. Seek those colleagues that can benefit from your interaction, and offer your friendship and experience through mentoring. This truly represents a profession.

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