At Heartland Dental, we not only believe in supporting dentists, but team members as well. We have created extensive continuing education opportunities, as well as opportunities for leadership growth and personal development. One of our most cherished programs is mentoring. When you were starting out, wouldn’t you have liked to have had a trusted and successful mentor help you through challenges and celebrate successes?
Our registered dental hygiene mentors act as role models, teachers and advisors. They agree to learn, reflect, develop, communicate and problem solve. Mentors share wisdom and knowledge while helping to create leaders within Heartland Dental.
“As hygiene mentors we put on a lot of different hats,” said Lori Hall, RDH and Clinical Director of Hygiene at Heartland Dental. “Simply put, we build relationships and culture in the field.”
They focus on the clinical hygiene aspects, but are not limited to that. Our hygiene mentors are there alongside hygienists to answer questions or point them in the right direction. In a sense, they shorten the learning curve and offer best practices that they’ve learned along the way.
“We get better with each office we support by sharing our best practices and experiences,” said hygiene mentor, Mandy Volk. “Many of our mentors play a huge role in the education process. It’s great to see so many strong hygienists participating in classes in order to offer the best support possible.”
Volk recently celebrated 16 years with Heartland Dental! Growing up, she had a fear of going to the dentist, which ironically led her to become a hygienist.
“I figured what better way to overcome my fears and relate to others about their dental fears than by learning more about dentistry,” she said.
When the opportunity to become a hygiene mentor came about, Volk was excited to be part of the team. The program was fairly new at the time, but Volk feels blessed to be part of something that is now a staple to Heartland Dental’s excellent clinical support.
"When you give, you receive. As a hygiene mentor, you're always out there helping other people, but you usually end up receiving a lot more than you're giving. When you become a mentor you open yourself beyond your practice. It's a dual benefit."
“I enjoy supporting mentor teams and keeping them fed in their leadership,” she said. “We continue to strive for mastery so that we can be the best support system for our clinical team members.”
Heartland Dental has a network of approximately 100 registered dental hygiene mentors. They are placed locally by region and area in an effort to build a hometown feel and culture of camaraderie. Events like study clubs and workshops are setup so that people can get to know each other on a personal level.
Any registered dental hygienist is eligible to become a hygiene mentor by expressing interest. Other factors that are considered include leadership skills and clinical hygiene experience. Initially, registered dental hygiene mentors complete two educational courses: clinical fundamentals and the mentor training series.
“The path of development is different for everyone depending on your personal and professional growth,” said Hall. “Some need to work on their leadership skills and some on their own personal ‘home’ or what we consider their individual offices.”
Being a strong leader in their “home” is one of the most important characteristics of hygiene mentors. Also important is following systems, and being open, positive and flexible to new things. To continue improving, they have to know change is inevitable.
“We continue to improve the registered dental hygienhygiene mentor program and for that to continue happening, we need people who embrace change. We know that mentoring is not about us, but for those that we can help to achieve their goals, and in return they can give their patients the best care possible.”
Being in a mentor role, whether it’s in a professional or casual environment is rewarding for both the mentor and the mentee.
“When you give, you receive. As a hygiene mentor, you’re always out there helping other people, but you usually end up receiving a lot more than you’re giving. When you become a mentor you open yourself beyond your practice. It’s a dual benefit,” said Hall.