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Dental hygiene mentoring: Find an ear that will listen, as soon as possible

June 19, 2017
Linda Meeuwenberg, RDH, explains the urgency to receive mentoring very early during a dental hygiene career. 

by Linda Meeuwenberg, RDH, MA, MA

As you begin your new career in dental hygiene and regain your personal and family life, you may want to consider the value of establishing mentors that can help you on the next chapter of your journey.

John C. Crosby, an American politician in the late 1800s and early 1900s, once said, “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”

While you are enjoying establishing new routines revolving around your work rather than school, consider finding someone that you can share what thoughts and questions are going through your mind as you treat a day/week filled with different patient encounters. Here are some tips on finding a mentor or two:
  1. Establish a relationship with seasoned hygienists that you admire. You can meet them at your local dental hygiene component, study clubs, or even on the soccer field with your children.
  2. Reach out to a mentor by inviting them for a coffee, lunch, or glass of wine. Always pick up the tab too. They are helping you.
  3. Have a specific agenda in advance of your informal meeting. Write down some questions in advance, such as about how to manage that difficult child with the helicopter mom. How to advance your career and become an asset to the office.
  4. Schedule a regular meeting time to review goals.
  5. Ask the mentor to be your accountability partner. That means you should establish goals with a specific timeline for completing those goals. (such as returning to school to complete a bachelor’s degree).

I assure you that if you establish one or more mentors early on in your career, you will be more successful. Dental hygiene can be a lonely journey if you travel it alone. Hygienists work in isolation from the rest of the office. With a busy schedule, you may find there is little time for conversation with the rest of the team. Establish your tribe early on and make it fun!


Other articles by Linda Meeuwenberg


I wish you all the best as you pursue this wonderful career. I can say that I love dental hygiene today in my 60s as much I did in my 20s! Stay abreast of trends in the profession so you are always stimulated intellectually. Go to CE courses, conferences, evening seminars, and learn all you can to enhance your patient treatment. Enjoy the journey. You are the height of enthusiasm and idealism of your career. Go ahead, leave your mark and make a difference!

Linda Meeuwenberg, RDH, MA, MA, is the founder and CEO of Professional Development Association Inc. and professor emeritus of Ferris State University. Linda offers keynote addresses and seminars that help her participants improve their personal and professional performance. She has coauthored three collaborative books on achieving success. Linda is a 2009 Hygiene Hero Award and 2012 Award of Distinction recipient. Contact her at