Strength In Numbers

HDC's Mentor Program Helps Guide Young Dentists to Success

Dr. Anne Marie Ross of Dickson Dental in Dickson, Tennessee, graduated from dental school armed with vast clinical knowledge and was ready to embark on the start of her career in a single-dentist practice. However, she soon felt apprehensive on her own, with fear setting in when it came to performing procedures in which she didn't have as much experience. Fortunately, she was part of an HDC-affiliated office, so she eagerly seized the guidance she needed from a doctor mentor. A network of suggestions, tips and support flowed her way. After just one year out of dental school, Dr. Ross felt as though she had learned things that might have otherwise taken years to experience.

Dr. Ross is just one of the many dentists who have benefited from HDC's approach to shortening the learning curve for dentists, especially new dental school graduates. Successful companies often adopt a mentoring program to build leaders. For HDC, that translates to building leadership and clinical skills. The concept of pairing a new doctor with an experienced one is a unique opportunity. HDC's doctor mentor program has expanded in the last few years. Among the benefits listed by mentee dentists, gaining confidence and having someone to approach with questions remain among the top.

"A doctor mentor provides inspiration and motivation to achieve things you may not have otherwise thought possible, while offering support and solutions for the many struggles which will come up along the way."

Ben Hanson, DDS
practices at Brownstown Dental Care in Brownstown, Michigan. He started practicing with HDC in 2011.

Dr. Timothy Larson, HDC Clinical Director and practicing dentist at Heritage Dental Group in St. Peters, Missouri, developed the doctor mentor program. "We want to ensure all doctors have someone to contact for masterminding or bouncing around ideas," he said. "With the wealth of experience these doctor mentors have, mentee dentists have an incredible opportunity to advance their knowledge through this program."

Most dentists affiliated with HDC utilize the doctor mentor program by visiting another dentist in their office. By observing and asking questions, the mentee can often pick up tips for efficiencies and can see how patient flow works in other offices. In other occasions, the doctor mentor will visit the mentee and guide them through complicated cases. This is exactly how it worked for Dr. Ross. After planning a mentor visit, she filled her schedule that day with more complicated extractions and molar root canals. Together, Dr. Ross and her mentor worked side by side to discuss the case options. The previous apprehension Dr. Ross experienced when completing an unfamiliar case was soon replaced with confidence.

Dr. Dan Hartwig of Family Dentistry of Arnold also found his mentor experience rewarding for himself and his patients. With the help of a doctor mentor, he was able to push the limits of his comfort zone. The Missouri dentist had never performed a root canal on a second molar, so when he had a patient present with this exact situation, his first instinct was to refer the patient to an endodontist. "I was apprehensive about performing the procedure, but my doctor mentor gave me the guidance I needed to succeed," Dr. Hartwig recalled. After some clinical coaching, he performed the procedure with no problems. "Since then, I have gained the confidence to not only perform second molar endo, but also many other procedures that require me to step outside of my comfort zone."

HDC invests in doctor mentoring programs because the benefits to both the mentee and mentor are substantial. Doctor mentors provide hope to new or struggling dentists, give back to their region and help contribute to a positive culture of the company. "A doctor mentor provides inspiration and motivation to achieve things mentees may have thought impossible, while offering support and solutions for the many struggles which will come up along the way," said mentee dentist, Dr. Ben Hanson of Brownstown Dental Care. In addition, doctor mentors benefit by continually increasing their knowledge and gaining experience.

Dr. Ross readily shares her story of turning uncertainty into confidence and credits the mentors who have helped her in this journey. She is not alone; many young dentists are gaining the confidence they need from HDC's world-class doctor mentoring program.