Mentors are professional role models who are willing to share their time and expertise to support the growth of others and help them reach their full potential. Mentors often facilitate the growth process simply by being a friend, listening, coaching, exploring options, offering insight, sharing experiences, and encouraging thought-provoking opportunities. In short, a good mentor is anyone from whom an individual can learn.
There are many benefits associated with being a mentor. Mentoring is an opportunity to renew your enthusiasm for your role as an expert; enhance skills in leadership, coaching, and listening; support the growth of orthodontists who represent the future of the specialty; as well as obtain a greater understanding of generational differences and barriers experienced by new orthodontists. Most of all, mentoring leads to personal fulfillment and satisfaction simply by helping others and establishing meaningful relationships.

Mentors Should:

  • Be an AAO member (required)
  • Have at least 10 years of experience post-graduation
  • Be no more than 5 years removed from practice
  • Be willing to serve in a mentor role for at least 6 months
  • Be willing to spend at least 4-5 hours per quarter on preparation and contributions to their mentoring relationships
  • Support the AAO’s mission, vision, and program goals
  • Have an interest in supporting the growth of others
  • Be a positive role model
  • Be willing to participate in mentorship training
  • Stay accessible, committed, and engaged during the length of the program
  • Maintain confidentiality and trust of the mentoring relationship
  • Be able to actively listen, communicate well, and ask open-ended questions
  • Share candid concerns and feedback to support mentee’s journey
  • Share “lessons learned” from their own experiences
  • Be a resource and sounding board
  • Be comfortable in providing feedback to mentees regarding what is working or not working in the mentoring relationship
  • Understand that the mentee is responsible for his or her own career development
  • Understand that mentors who are not meeting role expectations may be removed from the program

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What am I expected to do? Mentors are expected to provide their mentee with about one hour of support and interaction per month. Most of this interaction will take place via email and other web-related tools (for example, instant messaging) or face-to-face, as appropriate. Mentors should work with their mentee to determine what kind of support will be most useful—specific feedback related to finding jobs, general career advice, information on higher studies, technical information, personal encouragement, and so on.
  • How long will the commitment be? We ask our mentors to make commitments of at least six months in order to ensure that the mentee is able to fully benefit from the relationship. If a mentor must leave the relationship early, we request at least one month's notice in order to search for a replacement mentor with similar background.
  • Are there any potential risks to me or my practice? No. It is not appropriate for mentors to engage in any business transactions with their mentees; instead, the relationship should only involve the flow of general information and advice.
  • Relationship is not going well or I am concerned about mentorship, what to do? We encourage letting the mentee know about the situation and contact the Admin immediately. We will provide our full support to resolve the situation in a positive and satisfactory manner.

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Mentor DO's

  1. Commit at least one interaction/hour of support per month.
  2. Take responsibility to initiate the relationship.
  3. Set aside time for the mentoring process and honor all appointments.
  4. Invite the mentee to meetings or activities, as appropriate. Schedule meetings with planned topics.
  5. Be flexible on meeting times and places.
  6. Arrange frequent contacts via phone, email, face-to-face, etc., as appropriate
  7. Respond to emails from your mentee within 2 days of receipt.
  8. Keep information that your mentee has shared with you confidential. If something concerning the mentee needs to be discussed with others, it should first be discussed within the mentoring relationship.
  9. Establish open and honest communication and a forum for idea exchange.
  10. Foster creativity and independence. Help build self-confidence and offer encouragement.
  11. Provide honest and timely feedback to your mentee.
  12. Provide opportunities for the mentee to talk about concerns and ask questions.
  13. Above all, LISTEN.

Mentor DON'Ts

  1. Try to give advice on everything.
  2. Encourage mentee to be totally dependent upon you.
  3. Provide your personal history, problems, animosities, successes, failures, etc unless they are constructive contributions.
  4. Be too busy when the mentee needs your friendship or your support. If you do not have time, give the mentee a heads up, so that they know when they can reach you.
  5. Criticize.