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Hygiene Mentor

Hi Kara, I am looking for a “hygiene mentor.” Do you hear of this often? Sites like yours are so helpful but I am looking for more one on one help on a personal standpoint. This unfortunately wasn’t set up in school. Past instructors, co workers, old classmates do not seem to be that willing unfortunately. Do you have advice how one can be found?

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Thank you for your kind words! I know of many people that have colleagues they consider “mentors.” Many of these hygienists have found mentors through networking. While the first people I would recommend as mentors are former instructors, co-workers, and classmates, there are many other people out there that you can find through networking. For instance, if you are a member of the ADHA and attend component meetings, you could find a mentor that way. There’s also great networking opportunities at conferences, especially hygiene conferences, where you can find a mentor. Study clubs and local CE events are another way to network and find a possible mentor. You need to find someone that you “click with” and go from there!
To touch on the possible reason that hygiene schools don’t automatically set you up with a mentor is that critical thinking is highly enforced during the hygiene program. They want you to be able to research and find your own answers as much as possible. They teach critical thinking because it is a skill you need to have to be a strong and well-rounded clinician in order to treat your patients to the highest standards. You can only build on these critical thinking skills by putting critical thinking into practice beyond hygiene school.
With that said, it doesn’t mean a mentor isn’t helpful to bounce ideas off of and support you while you reach your career goals. However, it must be noted that a mentor isn’t there to “hold your hand,” because this will never allow you to grow to your full potential as a clinician and can be more detrimental to your growth than be helpful. No one can do the work or research for you, it takes effort on your part. As hygienists, we all go through finding answers through research if we don’t immediately know something. Basically, its a fine-line and you don’t want to completely rely on someone else because what happens when that someone else isn’t there? Simply put, you must be self-reliant. Often times, answers can be readily found from a reliable source with a simple Google search.
Start networking to not only increase your dental hygiene knowledge, but to find a possible mentor. There’s a lot of knowledgeable hygienists out there that can not only help you to expand your own knowledge, but possibly gently guide you along the way.

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