Dental Articles

Essential To A Full Career Experience: Volunteerism And Mentoring


By Dr. Deborah Marynak

Have you ever volunteered your professional services? I mean really taken time to give back to your community by volunteering your skills? I recently had the opportunity to volunteer my services at a Children’s Health Fair screening for oral, visual and hearing health. Initially, all I could think about was how busy I was and how I really didn’t have time to give. When I walked away from the Fair, I was surprised that I felt a surge of happiness and fulfillment I hadn’t expected.

When I drove up to the facility I got a little nervous when I saw families lined up all the way around the building and down the sidewalk. When I stepped into the building, the buzz was deafening, so much so that I wondered how they were going to perform the screenings for hearing. Families were registering and being directed to line up at the various doors entering the gymnasium. The kids were rowdy, the parents were attempting to control them and the providers were streaming in.

We didn’t have dental chairs and I used a flashlight (I cannot wear those headlights…they give me a headache) to do a visual exam of the kids, followed by an application of fluoride varnish. There were balloons and face paint and before I knew it, my replacement was there and I was told “thank you and goodbye”. As I walked to my car, I decided that I’m going to do a lot more of that...I really enjoyed it and if you’ve never volunteered, I highly recommend it.

Later that day I was thinking about all of the Dental Assistants who’d thanked me for all I had taught them over the years in practice. In a way, I had volunteered my time and experience to increase their knowledge about the realities of the everyday grind of Dentistry. These weren’t just the Intern Students who’d been assigned to work for a period of time in my practice, but the many assistants I’d worked with in the various venues of Dentistry I’d experienced.

Perhaps a better description for this type of service to the profession would be called mentoring. My belief is that all of us who are experienced Dental Health Professionals should be volunteering our services to the community and mentoring our younger, newer Dental Professionals. Stop and think about the abundance of knowledge you have gained in the years you have been practicing Dentistry in whatever position you have chosen.

So the next time you hear about a program looking for a volunteer, do yourself a favor and step up. I promise you won’t regret your decision. And the next time you encounter a newbie, take them under your wing and volunteer to mentor them; they’ll remember you cared for a long time and they may even pay it forward someday.

“The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.”

- Ethel Percy Andrus

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