When it comes to art of dentistry, there's no flinching from the intense spotlight cast on a professional's every move. We live and breathe the meticulous craft, striving for perfection against the silent orchestra of whirring drills and the occasional beep of an X-ray. Yet, amidst this pursuit, we've overlooked a cornerstone of our industry, a tenet seamlessly woven into the fabric of dentistry's legacy: mentorship. But let us be clear. Mentorship is not a transactional engagement, nor is it a fleeting moment in the story of a dental professional. It is a heartened, long-standing commitment forged between experience and ambition, knowledge and aspiration. It's regrettable to note that in today's dental landscape, this sacred bond is in decline, overshadowed by metrics that insidiously devour the noble spirit of healing that once defined our profession. This is not a sob story, a pining requiem for a bygone era. This is a resilient call to action, a reawakening of the ethos that must underpin every dental hire, every associate's first tentative step into the hallowed halls of practice.
The Disillusioned Seekers of Light: A Generation at Crossroads
The story of our times is one marked by disenchantment. Freshly-minted dental graduates, brimming with zeal and creative fervor, are met with a reality starkly different from their academic utopia. To them, it is a world where the humanistic aspect of dentistry is eclipsed by the inescapable corporate shadow. The call for mentors, once as piercing as the basilisk's stare, now echoes as a faint whisper in the sterile confines of clinics. Imagine a world where associates are not just placeholders in a rota, but integral threads in the tapestry of patient care. Where 'leadership' is not a hollow buzzword bandied about in HR seminars but a guiding principle so deeply ingrained it permeates every decision, every interaction within the practice. It is within our power to envision and realize this world, to transcend the quotidian chaos that encroaches on the sanctity of our profession and to sculpt an experience that is rewarding, not just remunerative.
Valuing Ethics Above Earnings: Redefining Success
The first page in the mentor's handbook is the redefinition of success. For too long, we've measured professional growth in specters of monetary accumulation; a model that does disservice to the very essence of the care we provide. True success in dentistry is the number of lives touched, the smiles repaired, and the souls comforted. It is imperative that we instill these values in our associates — values that will serve as lodestars in their journey through the profession.
Compassionate Leadership: The Core of Mentorship
Leadership in mentorship is a mosaic of compassion and integrity. It involves sharing not just techniques and formulas but the deeply human aspect of the trade — the art of calming a nervous patient, the language of empathy, the science of patient education. This is the mentor's creed — to equip their progeny not just with the tools to excel dentally but to become paragons of communication and care, steadfast in the face of professional pitfalls.
Fostering Resilience in the Face of Adversity
Dentistry is a demanding mistress, fraught with its share of disappointments and mistakes. A mentor's role is to shape the associate's perspective, to fashion resilient characters who view these not as failures but as stepping stones, each one a silent lesson learned.
A Collaborative Ecosystem: Breaking Silos, Building Bonds
The hierarchical chasm between associates and principals is a barrier to growth, a Berlin Wall that segments knowledge rather than disseminating it. The successful practice is one that champions a collaborative ecosystem, where questions are not feared, and knowledge is not hoarded but shared freely. This egalitarian playground is where innovation thrives, where every individual feels a vital cog in the wheel of progress.
The Mentor's Gateway: An Open Door Policy
Mentorship is not a nine-to-five affair, and the mentor's door must remain ajar, a lighthouse beacon in the associate's stormy sea of uncertainties. It requires patience, time, and an unabated fervor to guide, correct, and ultimately empower these young professionals.
The Journey Ahead: Embers to Ablaze
As we stand at the precipice of change, it is incumbent upon us to not merely talk about the mentorship ideal but to stride resolutely towards it. We call upon every practice owner, every seasoned dentist, to unearth the dormant mentor within, to ignite the curious minds that seek the warmth of wisdom, and to propagate a culture of learning and growth. To the new dental graduate, uncertain in plain sight of a burgeoning career — do not settle for a practice; seek a mentor. Your journey is just beginning, and it is the associations you forge, the wisdom you inherit, that shall be the steppingstones towards your growth. To the seasoned practitioner — your legacy is not measured in the resolve of your devices or the stateliness of your clinic, but in the countenance of the professionals that you shepherd into the future. Be the mentor you needed when you began. In this vocation of mending smiles and spirits, let our principles align with our actions, and let our practices reflect the nobility of intent that first drew us to dentistry. The dentist's chair, a throne to some, a confessional to others, must also become the genesis of a new kind of relationship — one that extends beyond the patient to the practitioners who take their place alongside us, hand in glove, silently vowing to preserve the sanctity of our craft. It is in nurturing the next generation that we ensure our profession remains eternally youthful, forever pulsating with the fervor of new ideas, new technologies, new hope. As we bid adieu to the vacuous model of 'dental hire' and welcome with open arms the symbiotic embrace of 'genuine mentorship', we do not just embellish our clinics with talent — we elevate our collective consciousness, breath by breath, as we walk the path of patient care and professional growth alike. The mentorship hire is not simply a dental associate; it is a commitment, a revelation, a testament to our unyielding belief in the intrinsic worth of every individual entering our fold.
Dentists of the world, let's mentor — for in guiding others, we guide ourselves towards a brighter, more compassionate horizon.
In the darkest hours of our self-doubt, there can emerge a beacon, a guiding light that steers us towards shores of hope and fulfillment. For me, that beacon has been Dentist Job Connect, particularly Dr. and Mrs. Nacho (Paul and Mary Goodman). I extend my deepest gratitude for their unwavering support, for helping me discover my associate, for instilling in me the spirit of mentorship, for nourishing the dreams I dared to dream, and for fostering those of my associate too. Their influence has not been a mere dentistry tutorial, but rather, a life lesson, a testament to the power of mentorship. To quote Seneca, "While we teach, we learn," and indeed, through my journey with them, I have learned much more than I have imparted. To Paul and Mary, thank you for transforming my dreams — and those of my associate — into reality.
Maggie Augustyn, DDS
Dr. Maggie Augustyn is a practicing general dentist, owner of Happy Tooth, author and inspirational speaker. Dr. Maggie Augustyn reads, researches, writes and speaks on the things that make us human, that make us hurt and that make us come alive. Her personal mission is to ignite people to journey towards a less tainted self-actualization. Dr. Maggie Augustyn is a practicing general dentist, owner of Happy Tooth, author and inspirational speaker. She completed her formal dental education earning a doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Immediately post graduation she completed the course sequence at the renowned Dawson Academy in occlusion. Benedictine University awarded her the Rising Star Award presented to an alumnus who has made considerable strides in their career and has demonstrated dedication to philanthropic endeavors. She is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Prosthodontists and is an exam short of her Fellowship of the Academy of General Dentistry. She also holds a faculty position with Productive Dentist Academy. Dr. Augustyn has an average of 20 publications per year including being a frequent contributor to Dental Entrepreneur Woman. She takes most pride in her role at Dentistry Today publishing a column called "Mindful Moments". Augustyn has been nominated for Author of The Year at the Dental Festival upcoming in later this month. She has also been featured on various podcasts and lectures nationally bringing attention to the importance of authenticity and self discovery.