Jane Davies-Slowik is a founder member of DMUK to read her profile click here
If you Google ‘Career mentoring’ you will pull up thousands of articles in newspapers, academic papers, university websites and business websites all discussing the benefits of having a mentor to help you to plan your way forward and the next steps you need to take to improve your chances of achieving your aspirations.
Mentoring is used most often to help people transition between career stages. Mentors can be useful whether you are stuck in a rut or at a transitional point in your career and can act as great catalysts to take your career to its next stage. Any dental professional can benefit from having a mentor at times when they are considering their future career, whether they want to explore taking on a new clinical area of expertise, would like to start teaching or a management role, moving areas, or developing academic potential.
Mentoring can be useful at any stage of your career, either near the beginning, to decide on your general direction of travel, later on in your career when you feel that circumstances either at work or on a personal level, deem a change in direction, or near the end of your career where you can discuss strategies for ensuring that your work life balance suits you and keeps you fulfilled professionally and personally.
There are many career options available illustrated in a recent book by Janine Brooks, which describes the development of portfolio careers in dentistry and offers a ‘user-friendly guide to securing a successful, varied, and fulfilling career in dentistry’. Your mentor will help you work through the options that suit your development needs.
A good mentor will find out about you and where you see yourself in the future. They will give you the time and space to consider your options and determine your way forward. They will provide you the opportunity to think the unthinkable and will ask challenging questions to broaden your horizons, if that is what you want. You will have the chance to reassess your priorities and it often takes a good listener to help you to determine your real thoughts and potential opportunities for the way forward.
Having a mentor who is a dental professional means that they have the knowledge and experience to put this all into context. Mentors and coaches use their own experience to ask questions that lead the mentee to their own insights and conclusions and help them to develop their own wisdom. Megginson and Clutterbuck say that in addition to these skills mentors help the learner to build wider networks, act as a sounding board, adviser and role model in addition to responding to the mentees need for emotional support, ideal for career mentoring.
Brooks,J. How to develop your career in dentistry. Publisher Wiley. ISBN: 9781118913796
Megginson and Clutterbuck: Techniques for Coaching and Mentoring. part 1 Third edition 2012 ISBN: 978-0-7506-5287-2