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The Importance of Mentoring
18 January 2011
Do you remember that great feeling you had after you conquered an assignment that you thought was impossible, thanks to the gracious help of your teacher? A mentor is usually a more experienced person in the field of your choosing who acts as a role model, teacher, guide, and coach and gives significant career assistance to a less-experienced professional or student (the mentee). Great mentors, like great teachers, will always be remembered in your life for the astonishing impact they had on your career. The mentor-mentee relationship may be short-term, long-term, or task specific, but nonetheless, having a good mentor could make the difference between finding success and failure in any health field.
The Benefits of Having a Mentor
Find a Mentor Who Is Right for You
Women and Minorities
The National Research Committee (NRC) recently issued a report encouraging women in science to seek multiple mentors in all stages of their career. The report states that many women benefit from mentoring even more than men. The NRC has shown that female assistant professors with no mentors had a 68 percent probability of having grant funding versus 93 percent of women with mentors.
Minorities are still breaking ground in the health and science fields so students from historically underrepresented groups may have a harder time finding role models who might have had experiences similar to their own. If you find your mentor pool is seemingly homogenous, consider choosing a mentor with a different cultural background. What is most important is what you and your mentor share: an enthusiastic commitment to the academic and intellectual goals of your field.
Mentoring Benefits the Mentee and the Mentor
Mentors can turn your fears and uncertainty about pursuing a particular job or career into a more manageable undertaking with the support of someone who has “been there and done that.” After building a relationship with your mentor, you will have a much better understanding of what could be holding you back from reaching your full potential and what gifts and talents you may overlook or undervalue. Mentors can benefit from taking mentees under their wing because their students will keep them abreast of the latest technology and knowledge. Additionally, a mentor who is able to successfully model competence, dedication, and professionalism may experience increased professional stature if they are able to send talented new scholars into the field. Many mentors note that seeing their mentees succeed can be as rewarding as a major publication or prestigious award.
This article was written by Lauren A.S. Bush, Senior Administrative Assistant, Center for Educational Policy and Research at the American Dental Education Association.
Last updated: February 5, 2016
©2012 American Dental Education Association