Where did it all begin? For years I had been supporting others, watching them grow and develop into dental professionals and when their road took different twists and turns I would be there to listen and help them on their way. It all seems a long time ago and a lot has happened over the years; I have learned a lot and I am still learning.
What is my story? Well as the years went by and I had experienced many fields of dentistry I began to search for something that would foster and aid my passion for dental education. Having worked for a number of training providers and set up my own business I could see that the way I worked to support others had to change, but I didn’t know how. I had undertaken numerous qualifications and was very comfortable in my field and in education having been successful to Masters level and now being a PhD student.
Unpicking my own dilemma I had the opportunity to join a mentoring course being provided by the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK), this was the first cohort of Mentoring in Dentistry facilitated by Dr Vernon Holt alongside Julia Pokora and Mary Connor. I was the only dental care professional in the group, but it didn’t make the slightest bit of difference. It was a lengthy course with many hours of reading and application and weekend workshops, but well worth it and to that end I achieved a distinction in the course. We then went out to the regional groups and trained others to become mentors.
The opportunities that have come from the qualification have been far reaching and of course it mapped across into my undergraduate degree where we studied mentoring and coaching in learning. It was like a new chapter in my life had begun. The way I was helping people was very different and we all benefited from this. I wrote widely on the topic, I went on to teach about it and supported and developed the setting up of the mentoring arm for a dental charity and they embarked on speed date mentoring as an initiative to grow dental mentors which was hugely successful and at the last count there were 180 trained mentors.
That was just the beginning: In addition to this I have been involved in developing a mentoring ethos for general dental practitioners as part of Health Education England, supporting colleagues who have been through a fitness to practice case and require clinical supervision. In academic terms I have mentored a number of colleagues with their undergraduate courses and with their academic writing and only recently supported a physiotherapist with her MSc. Whilst I am on that topic it is probably the right time to share with you that my mentoring skills have also been put to good use on a voluntary government scheme helping long term cared for (Fostered) children in learning.
So where am I now? Fully immersed in dental education across the whole sector and passionate about mentoring in a number of different contexts and settings. I am the founder of a mentoring network at professional association level and involved in the professional buddies group. I am a committee member of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council educational group and feel very privileged to be part of Dental Mentoring UK.
For those of you who are aware of the Egan skilled helper model (2007), which has the work of Carl Rogers at heart you may see this throughout this abridged version of my analogy of ‘my story’, but actually part of this is the model that Dr Vernon Holt developed - the Y.U.G.R.O.W model. My belief is that everyone needs a mentor at some point in their professional lives no matter what your role is within the dental team and Dental Mentors UK gives you that opportunity to connect with the right people.