Nurturing potential: being a mentor is a powerful thing.
Article Type: Column
Subject: Mentors (Methods)
Dental personnel (Practice)
Author: Pohl, Claudia
Pub Date: 05/01/2012
Publication: Name: The Dental Assistant Publisher: American Dental Assistants Association Audience: Academic; Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Science and technology Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 American Dental Assistants Association ISSN: 1088-3886
Issue: Date: May-June, 2012 Source Volume: 81 Source Issue: 3
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics
Product: Product Code: 8043800 Dental Auxiliaries NAICS Code: 62121 Offices of Dentists
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 303073600
Full Text: Well, May and June bring with it graduations--and that includes dental assistants! Students around the country are now finishing their education and looking to enter the profession with their first job. Do you remember that excitement and anticipation of getting started in your career? It held the hope of a bright future and the potential for growth and learning--being a part of the dental health team and something bigger than yourself.

Chances are that you had someone along the way who helped you as you got started on your journey into the dental assisting profession. For those of you who are settled into your career, you now have the opportunity to give back to mentor one of these new graduates in the profession and the organization.

It wasn't until recently that I embraced that word "mentor," because the word sounds so "official" and I never saw myself as being a mentor--I'd never been taught how to do it, after all. Then I realized that being a mentor is really just "being a brain to pick, a shoulder to cry on and for giving a kick in the pants (R.Tyre)" We have the opportunity to do that all the time, don't we?

So, we become a mentor to a new graduate when we show them what it means to be a professional, demonstrating to them the soft skills needed to fit into a dental practice. We become a mentor when we teach them how to work as a team, work out their differences with their new co-workers, push through frustration, respect each other's differences and support each other. We also become a mentor when we see traits, skills or gifts in them, help them see it in themselves and then encourage them to develop those traits, skills and gifts that make them a leader.

I love this quote by Zig Ziglar, author of See You at the Top: "A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could" It typifies the potential effect we can have on those around us. It is the moment when we see gifts and potential in someone else, then invest in them and allow them the room to grow, while providing the support and tools they need. We have the opportunity to believe in these new graduates even when they don't, and then allow them to see themselves as we see them. What a powerful thing!

As I have visited dental assisting students around the country this year, I've tried to impress upon them that they are all leaders, each in their own way. Many of my students lack self-confidence and don't see themselves as leaders. But the truth is that they all have the potential to become leaders, whether it's in their homes, their offices, their student chapter, or in the professional organization. When they graduate, they just need someone to help them recognize their own potential--someone like you!

Claudia Pohl, CDA, RDA, FADAA, BVEd

ADAA President, 2011-2012
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.