While I was studying at a coffee shop, I happened to meet a dentist. After chatting for a bit about his experiences in private practice and public health, I asked him if he had any advice for a current dental student. Without hesitation, he said, “It’s important to have a mentor who is willing to teach and guide you.”
Out of the many relationships that are created and maintained in the dental world, I believe that mentorship is one of the most vital and rewarding. A mentor can teach and provide insight to the mentee that isn’t found in the classroom or a group setting. Having someone who is already doing what you’re working toward is beneficial throughout your journey. This one-on-one relationship allows the mentor to provide personalized advice for their specific questions or worries.
When I was in high school, I was extremely fortunate to have met a dental student. Even with her tight schedule, she never hesitated to share her experiences as a student. She told me about her passion for dentistry and her struggles in school. When I started college, she suggested I consider dentistry as a career, and I will forever be thankful for her encouragement. A few years later, I am now a dental student and she is a practicing dentist. Recently, we met up for dinner, and I told her about the difficulties and stressors of dental school. Just like before, she was willing to listen and reassure me that it is all worth it in the end. All the challenges you encounter in dental school push you to be a successful dentist. Beyond that, she helped motivate me to become a better student, ensuring I will become a better dentist in the future.
This ongoing relationship is one that I cherish. I strongly recommend finding a mentor and asking for their advice. Their experiences are resources that aid you in becoming the best version of yourself. ASDA has valuable resources about how to approach a potential mentor on the website.
Lastly, I encourage mentees to pay it forward and become mentors to others. Everyone has something valuable to share. You and your daily experiences as a dental student may shed some light on the process for others who will follow. Filled with inspiration from my mentor, I met with my first predental mentee in the same coffee shop where I’d met the dentist who would become a mentor to me. I hope to continue offering guidance for other students in the future. Mentorship is a valuable system with the potential to share a tremendous amount of insight and knowledge. I encourage all of you, if you haven’t already, to find a mentor to reach out to.
~ Esther Lee, Louisville ’19
About Esther Lee
Esther Lee is a second year at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. She serves as the newsletter chair for LASDA and administrative assistant for the Asian American Dental Association (AADA). She is a professional napper and Coke Zero enthusiast.