Dental Professionals

Mentor Program

The Mentor Program organized by Wisconsin Dental Association, Marquette University School of Dentistry and the Pierre Fauchard Academy to help guide students in their journey into dentistry.

The program is intended to build lasting relationships among future colleagues, as well as allow students and practicing dentists to learn about obstacles facing the profession and how to accomplish dental goals.

A mentor program forms relationships between students and members of the practicing profession.  It provides an avenue for students to take when looking for additional information, to bounce ideas off of or to get another opinion.

Save the date for Mentor Program kick-off dinner starting at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2017 at Marquette Union Alumni Hall!


Goal of the mentor program

The mentor program enables dental students and new dentists to obtain counsel and guidance with some of the concerns involved in beginning a dental career.  The Mentor Program is geared towards integrating the dentists of tomorrow with the dental community.

“A protégé learns from the mentor who has already gained experience in a field of interest. Hopefully the protégé will embody some of the attributes of the mentor along the way. Through the mentor, the protégé experiences a glimpse of the real world after dental school. There is a lot of variety in what one can do with a dental degree and I have been given the opportunity to see a few of those options.”
 – Emily Bugger, fourth year dental student and protégé.


How does the program work?

A practicing dentist is initially paired with a freshman and a junior dental student thus forming not only a potential mentor/protégé relationship with each student but also a big brother/big sister relationship between the two students. Each participant in the program is asked to commit for two years.  The program year is kicked off with an Annual Dinner where new mentors and protégés meet for the first time and are welcomed into the program by existing participants. From there, the mentors and protégés define where they want the relationship to go.  Several organized social opportunities will be offered throughout the year.


A mentor’s responsibilities

  • “Guiding and advising protégés by using experience and empathy” – Dr. Timothy Hartley, Brookfield
  • The mentor’s responsibility is to help the protégé help himself.
  • Challenge the protégé to develop a plan for success.
  • Mentors need to be available for the protégées, investing the time and effort required for good mentoring.
  • Provide an opportunity for the protégé to see first-hand the inner workings of a dental office.
  • Share what it means to be a professional and a member of the dental community.
  • Invite protégé to participate in professional activities with you (component meetings, continuing education, meetings with dental suppliers).

A protégé’s responsibilities

  • Communicate frequently and openly.
  • Respect your mentor’s time by keeping appointments and commitments.
  • Express your expectations for the relationship – keeping expectations reasonable
  • Define what you hope to gain from and offer to the relationship.
  • Provide feedback to your mentor.
  • Share your thoughts about school, the profession and entering practice – seek their opinion.

What can a mentor do for the protégé?

“The mentor can talk about the trials and tribulations of dental school; introduce the protégé to other dentists, accountants, lawyers, bankers; introduce the protégé to a real world dental practice; give the student a sounding board and be a provider of nonjudgmental support.” – Dr.  John R. Moser, Milwaukee

A mentor is a good resource for helping the protégé:

  • Explore career possibilities.
  • Network with colleagues.
  • Meet members of the dental community (suppliers, lab technicians).
  • Understand the consequences of debt.
  • Stay motivated and focused on your goals.
  • Work through problem solving.
  • Understand the board process.

What are the benefits of being a mentor?

“Often we do not consider the motives or rationales for our actions, and therefore mentors learn more about themselves when they are asked by their protégé the simple question, ‘Why?’ Further, mentoring allows a person to participate in the stunningly rapid growth and development of their protégé in a most meaningful and helpful way. Mentoring is a way to realize the Golden Rule: the more we give, the more we receive.” – Dr. Timothy McNamara, Milwaukee/West Bend

  • Networking with colleagues
  • Working through problem solving
  • Sharing your expertise
  • Gaining new perspectives
  • Screen potential associates, partners or someone to take over your practice
  • Helping develop the profession’s future
  • Giving back to the profession
  • Staying apprised of changes in dental education

Relationship reminders

Although many of these things have already been discussed, there are basics to every mentor/protégé relationship that should be kept in mind.  They are:

  • Be willing and eager to talk, be willing and eager to listen.
  • Be honest.
  • Psyche yourself “up” for the discussion.  When you practice acting enthusiastic and positive, you actually begin to feel good.
  • Greet the mentor/protégé by name.
  • Feel free to share your opinion but guard against telling someone what to do or not to do.
  • Remember to thank the mentor for their time and attention.
  • Don’t be too nervous about pauses in the conversation.  They are natural.  It is okay to say, “May I have a moment to think about that” or “I don’t know, let me look into it some more”.
  • Try to hold up your end of the conversation.
  • Enjoy yourself and have fun.  Your time and effort can make a real difference in the personal and professional growth of the protégé.  You too will benefit from the satisfaction of sharing your interest in the profession.

What if the relationship doesn’t work?

If you’ve given it your best shot and tried communicating with each other, contact the program coordinator at the dental school or at the WDA office.  They can offer suggestions on ways to try improving the situation or if you feel that you and your assigned mentor/protégé are not well matched a new pairing may be made. Please don’t be discouraged or give up on the program.  Not all matches are meant to be.  New assignments may be made throughout the year.


A year’s worth of mentoring: A bi-weekly guide

“Mentoring is a great way to get students involved, to learn what it’s really like out there.  Dental students – especially graduating dental students – can come out to visit the practicing dentist, spend the day at the office, see what takes place on a daily basis.”  Dr. Gene Shoemaker, Waukesha

1.    Attend the Annual Kick-Off Dinner.
2.    Discuss your mentoring goals.
3.    Talk about what it takes to get ahead.
4.    Attend M.U. table clinics together.
5.    Explore the Exhibit Hall at Annual Session.
6.    Talk about living within one’s means and what it means to the future.
7.    Attend a sporting event.
8.    Take your families to the zoo.
9.    Talk about personal values and ethics.
10.    Take a tour of the mentor’s dental practice.
11.    Talk about planning a career, writing a résumé, finding a job.
12.    Do a practice interview.
13.    Have dinner together.
14.    Get together with colleagues.
15.    Sit in on a C.E. class together.
16.    Talk about networking.
17.    Participate in mentor program activities.
18.    Talk about insurance.
19.    Talk about balancing school/work/family and life.
20.    Talk about balancing a budget, explore financing options.
21.    Talk about credit cards and school debt.
22.    Talk about the future.
23.    Talk about staffing and working as a team.
24.    Attend the Dental School Picnic together.
25.    Take a tour of the dental school.
26.    Meet with a dental supplier.


Excerpts taken from:

Mentor Program: Professional Unity…Now More Than Ever; ADA Commission on the Young Professional

The Mentor Program: Giving Back to the Profession of Dentistry To Preserve Its Future; Ohio Dental Association

National Mentoring Partnership website: http://www.mentoring.org

Becoming an Effective Mentor: And a Receptive Protégé EXCERPTED FROM Coaching and Mentoring: How to Develop Top Talent and Achieve Stronger Performance

Prepared by the Mentor Advisory Group:  Ms. Linda Gleason, Dr. John Moser and Ms. Susan John

Dental Professionals

WDA