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The importance of mentorship programs

Aug. 11, 2022
The staffing shortage is guiding many practices to hire new graduates. Mentorship programs keep them engaged and learning.

Have you heard about the benefits of working for an organization that offers mentorship programs? Dental support organizations (DSOs) often get a bad rap because of their businesslike structure. However, one of their benefits is that they have many resources available, and among them is mentorship.

Since emerging from the pandemic, employees long for a way to feel connected. It’s been shown that humans thrive when they feel connected. What better way than to incorporate a mentorship program? If you’re wondering what some of the benefits are, let’s dive deeper.

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The benefits of a mentoring program

Mentorship helps employees feel valued in their organization. It gives them a safe place to discuss all types of situations and learn from their peers. I spoke with the director of enrollment for a corporate practice in South Carolina who reached out to me asking how to market to more hygienists due to the shortage in their area. She was wondering if she should promote their mentoring elements in their job postings.

Mentorship helps employees feel valued in their organization, gives them a safe place to discuss all types of situations, and to learn from their peers.

As I discussed this with her, she told me that they have 15 participating practices. Mentoring is a voluntary program, and she’s thankful people realize its importance. It’s organized so that the office manager (OM) of each practice chooses a team member to meet with once a month. The meeting starts with a check-in to see how everyone is feeling professionally.

They discuss and brainstorm anything they deem important in their work world. The OM challenges them to take what they’re learning to their practices and encourage their fellow team members in different ways. This type of mentoring circle is a great way to meet others throughout the practices beyond the one-on-one with the office manager. It encourages a sense of community and provides a circle of mentees who can assist each other in their careers. 

There is also one-on-one mentoring, which is a great opportunity when hiring a new graduate. With the shortage of dental hygienists in the US, more companies are in a position where their only hiring option is a new graduate. In this situation, the new employee is matched with a seasoned professional who gives them a safe space to discuss whatever they’re faced with when they start in patient care.

In the long run the benefits outweigh the time spent away from direct patient care. This program shows that the company values new grads and encourages their lifelong learning. This also helps lead employees into successful careers with a lower chance of burnout. 

Be mindful when starting a mentorship program of who is placed in the mentor role. If it’s a direct supervisor, then it may be tough for the employees to feel comfortable discussing certain situations. Rather, finding someone from neutral ground, ideally from another practice, will help encourage mentees to engage more openly.

Mentorship programs have been growing, especially since the pandemic. Companies want to find, hire, and keep the best employees, and they’re willing to put more effort into this than in the past. However, if you find yourself in a situation that does not provide you with peer learning, you can find a private career coach who can help you with your goals. The more time that you invest in yourself, the more fulfilled you’ll feel as you take your career journey.