by Kim Miller, RDH, BSDH
Over the past 30 years, I have had several mentors. Mentors who, without naming names, know exactly who they are. At the same time, I have had mentors who I have never met, as well as mentors who never knew they were acting in that capacity. The latter have been individuals I have observed from afar. I have followed their careers, read their articles, and listened to them speak. I have watched them leave their footprints on the sands of dental hygiene. Fortunately, I am constantly presented with opportunities to experience firsthand the impact of their influence and dedication.
Almost all of us know or work with a "newer" hygienist than ourselves. By default, we are their mentors. Our words and actions are being observed. Our behaviors and attitudes are being witnessed. Our relationships with patients and team members, including the doctor, are being evaluated. Whether it is your intention or not, you are mentoring those you work with on a daily basis.
On the other hand, if you set out to intentionally mentor a fellow hygienist or team member, what would you share? What real-life experiences have you had that someone else could learn from or be inspired by? What words of wisdom would you offer? What patient motivational techniques would you pass on? How could you help them navigate the often-turbulent waters of day-to-day patient care, and the ups and downs with team members and doctors?
Your experience in these areas is invaluable.
Being a clinical mentor who leads by example is also important. Cathy Jameson, CEO of Jameson Management, Inc., says "All dentists come to us wanting to offer the best possible clinical care. Many say they want to provide the best possible service. The reason we start with defining that vision into measurable goals is because providing excellent care and service are not merely dreams or wishes. Sure, they start there, but dental professionals must make a choice and carve out a plan of action. Now that the dream has become a written goal and a plan, that inspires them to make the investment and hold one another accountable to accomplishment. The keys are whether or not you're communicating about it well as a team and whether you're ready to set your sights on your dream with that level of determination."
Are you at the top of your game clinically? Do you excel at customer service? And if not, why not?
You have the power to positively impact not only the lives of your patients, but also the careers of those around you. You have something valuable to contribute to the development and growth of a less experienced team member.
Mentorship is a privilege and a responsibility. Make yourself available and approachable to those around you, those who you spend hours and hours with every day. Because you play such a key clinical role in the office, you are always in a perfect position to mentor by example.
Seth Godin, author of "Linchpin: Are you Indispensable?" said in an interview with John Jantsch, an author, marketing/digital technology coach, and social media publisher:
"In our current economy, the people who win are the ones who do stuff we didn't expect and we didn't ask for."
In other words, John added, "You're suggesting that people succeed at work by dong things that don't appear on their job descriptions."
I'm sure you agree that mentoring is a great example of doing something that doesn't appear on your job description. It certainly is something unexpected that wasn't asked for. None of us are indispensable. However, I propose to you that mentoring those on your team will make you a much more integral and vital part of the team.
Mentoring has many rewards making it beneficial for both mentor and student. This month I want to encourage you to look for opportunities to mentor those around you. Write and tell me about your experience or share the story of your mentor!
Kim Miller, RDH, BSDH, graduated from Loma Linda University in 1981. Kim is a co-founder of PerioFrogz.com and a partner with the JP Institute as well as a national speaker, author, and hands-on trainer.
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