Dental Mentors Blog

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You’ll have heard the phrase – use it or lose it!!! I take it to mean if you don’t keep doing something you may find you can’t. So, if you don’t ride a bike for years, then you might find when you try you fall off. If you haven’t attempted endodontics for a long time then you may find you have forgotten how. In dentistry the word de-skilled is used. I haven’t worked clinically for many years now and I accept that I would be foolish to return to the surgery without some serious re-training. I accept that I will have de-skilled in my clinical abilities.

Can the concept be applied to mentoring I wondered?

I think the answer is yes and no. Let me explain my thinking. To be a successful and competent mentor requires the individual to have two major strings to their bow – a skill and/or experience that another wants to learn from plus the skills to be a mentor and undertake the mentoring relationship. I’m going to assume that the former – the skill and/or experience is a given. It is the second set of skills that more generally need to be acquired. These skills include listening, questioning, reflecting and supporting. Whilst many may feel these are not skills that need to be taught, I believe they absolutely do. I also believe that many very skilled and experienced dental professionals are not very good at being mentors – they tell rather than mentor. The mentor is not a teacher. I’ll elaborate on why I think de-skilling can but doesn’t have to apply to mentoring.

Yes – If you do not use the skills of a mentor – listening, questioning, reflecting and supporting then you can get rusty and the term de-skilling could apply. Certainly once acquired they do need to be practiced until they become habituated.

No – If you apply the mentor skills learnt to every conversation you have – with patients, with staff, with colleagues then you will find you have truly become a mentor. You will find you do not need to consciously think about mentoring, you just are, the skills have become second nature and part of your everyday working.

There is nothing mystical about mentoring, it really is a case of changing the conversations you have every day with everyone to use the skills of being a mentor. This is when the real benefits of mentoring are realised.

So, yes if you choose not to use your acquired skills then it is possible to revert to old habits and old preferences. However, if you do use your new skills, incorporate them into the way you behave then you will not de-skill. The really good thing about being trained to be a mentor is that you can practice those skills all day, every day. You don’t need to ‘mentor’ someone to benefit from your new abilities. In mentoring it’s so easy to use it and not lose it.

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Menoring words

The first conference specifically for mentoring in dentistry was held on October 20th 2018, kindly hosted by the British Dental Association (BDA) at Wimpole St., London, attended by over 60 delegates.

The day began with a trio of excellent key note speakers, led by Professor David Clutterbuck, the internationally renowned authority on mentoring. Yvonne Coghill CBE FRCN gave a deeply personal and UK health-service perspective and Catherine Rutland gave the audience plenty to ponder from the private sector viewpoint.

Professor Clutterbuck began the proceedings taking a broad-brush approach to mentoring. Yvonne narrowed the focus to healthcare and Catherine described how Simply health professionals were applying mentoring in support of their practices and practitioners.

The three key note speakers led the delegates in a panel discussion that was both deep and wide reaching. There was an unexpected gift to delegates when Professor Clutterbuck generously offered all delegates a copy of his work – “How to ask powerful questions”.

Delegate feedback was excellent for all the key note speakers, including:
“Awesome to hear such a guru speak”, “Amazing context. Made me feel confident of taking up mentoring as my give back to the profession” and “Inspiring lecture that taught me the importance of not giving up following knock backs.”

This session was followed by parallel streams led by three speakers well known to many participants: Alasdair Miller, Joanne Brindley and Sally Strazzanti. They introduced delegates to; “Mindsets in Mentoring”; “What can Sinatra teach us?”; and “Mentoring for Resilience.”

More small group practical sessions were led by Pam Coates, Bob Hughes, Fiona Ellwood and Hoda Wassif. These session topics included: “Stepping from Associate to Practice owner”; “Mentoring principles”; “Ethical practice and mentoring agreements” and “Culture sensitive mentoring”

A mentoring café held at lunch time with experienced mentors offering taster 15-minute mentoring sessions to delegates provided very successful.

The organisers, Dental Coaching Academy, were delighted that delegates came from far and wide to attend this first dental mentoring conference and from across the dental team.

One delegate summed up the day in one word: FAB - U - LOUS! and it certainly was.

 

Don’t miss next year’s conference – hold the date – November 23rd 2019.

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British Dental Association's Blog

Five top tips on mentoring and finding a mentor

Every dental professional deserves a mentor.

Mentoring is probably the best tool for supporting performance quality in dental professionals. It's an expression of our values and culture as a caring profession. 
I believe it's time to get serious and give trained mentoring the attention it deserves; which is why I'm supporting the 2018 Dental Conference: Mentoring at the BDA's London office on 20 October, find out more below.

Five top tips on mentoring and finding a mentor - https://www.bda.org/news-centre/blog/Pages/Five-top-tips-mentoring-and-finding-a-mentor.aspx use this link to access the BDA blog written by DMUK’s Janine Brooks. 

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Janine Brooks is a founder member of Dental Mentors UK - click here to read her profile

 

Working with a mentor as you prepare for an interview is time well invested in your future. Any interview can be nerve wracking and it often doesn’t get any easier the more interviews you have or the longer you have worked in the profession. Dental professionals can struggle more than most as we often have fewer jobs throughout our career which means fewer interviews.

Some mentors will have more experience of conducting interviews, for example, those who work in larger organisations, for example Trusts, Corporates and Education establishments. When looking for a mentor to help you prepare for an interview these are the experiences to look for in your potential mentor. They will have constructed job descriptions and person specifications, they will have short listed candidates and conducted interviews. They will be used to formulating questions for interviews and can help you understand how to present yourself at your very best.

Another way that a mentor can help is to undertake a mock interview with you, this is great experience to build your confidence and give you practice in answering (and asking) questions. The feedback they give you will improve your performance at the real interview.

A mentor can help you to prepare how you look to ensure you present a confident, professional image in the way you dress and your body language. They can act as a mirror, picking up on mannerisms that you may not be aware of but that could affect your success.

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Janine Brooks is one of the founder mentors of Dental Mentors UK

In dentistry, when we refer to remediation we generally mean the process of supporting a dental professional whose performance has fallen below the standards expected of us, as set by the General Dental Council.  The word covers a multitude of processes, interventions and tools that need to come together. 

Each remediation package or programme will be unique and tailored to the specific needs of the dental professional who has under performed. 

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Mentoring is increasingly being seen as a way of helping and supporting the development of people and in our case, dental professionals. The word mentor has come to mean trusted adviser, friend, teacher and wise person. In dentistry we are beginning to appreciate the benefits of mentoring and more and more dental professionals have undertaken training to become successful mentors.

Mentoring focuses on the present and on the mentees future, desired outcomes. The mentor supports their mentee to achieve those outcomes or goals, through a reflective, conversational process. Your mentor will be able to offer fresh insights to issues you are grappling with, perhaps because they have dealt with similar situations themselves in the past. Importantly a mentor can help you to foresee difficulties and work through your approach to overcome barriers and obstacles.

“Mentoring is a developmental relationship where one person, typically older, or more experienced, or with more expert technical knowledge, willingly and freely shares their knowledge, skills, information and perspective to support the personal and professional growth of someone else. In some cases the mentor may also share their contacts or networks.” (The Forton Group 2013)

Mentoring is about a relationship rather than a process. This means the crucial element of successful mentoring is the rapport between a mentor and their mentee. It’s not traditional teaching or the simple transfer of knowledge from one person to another, it’s about supporting, helping and gentle guiding .


 

‘Mentoring means helping people to become better at helping themselves, helping them develop their opportunities and manage their problems, helping them become more effective, more functional, more empowered members of the workforce.’

Nancy Redfern, Specialty Dean, Northern Deanery

Mentoring has slowly been gaining a position of acceptance and value within dentistry since the 1990s and gradually dental professionals are becoming familiar with the term and the concept and benefits of mentoring. However, there is still considerable confusion over what mentoring is and is not. It can often be confused with other methods of professional support. Counsellors tend to work with clinical issues and go back to the past before going forward. It’s often a one- way relationship. The key difference between the teacher and the mentor is that the teacher gives information, they know what needs to be taught and they tell their students what they need to know. A mentor has experience and will share that with the mentee, they are experts in their field. By contrast the coach is often not an expert or specialist in the field their coachee operates in. They ask probing questions to draw out solutions and clarity from the coachee.

Reference:

Forton Group (2013) Foundations in Mentoring: A Model and Resources for Mentoring. www.thefortongroup.com

 

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Who We Are:

Dental Mentors UK is run by two experienced dental mentors.
We are:

We believe that all dental professionals would benefit from regularly working with a mentor from a personal as well as a professional point of view. Mentors are experienced dental professionals who can guide and support you throughout your career.

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