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All-Wales Faculty for Dental Care Professionals | 1.3 Mentoring


Section 1 - Mentorship Programme / 1.3 Mentoring

What is Mentoring?

The Supervising Registrants’ primary role is supervision, but this also includes mentorship. Mentorship in dentistry is the total support of a student by an appropriately experienced person.

Why Mentor?

The mentor is an essential part of the quality assurance process when training members of the dental team. Effective mentors are able to develop high quality students through the quality of their learning. Mentors guide the student through the knowledge, skills and attributes that are required by the sector and the regulator.

Types of Mentoring

Direct mentoring: This is where the student sits alongside the mentor but doesn’t take a leading role. Direct mentoring is most appropriate when a student is new to a particular task or lacks the confidence to compete the task appropriately. This is the beginning of the observe, rehearse and practice process.

Indirect mentoring: This is used when the student has a good knowledge of the clinical task. Using indirect monitoring, the student is allowed to lead on a task once with the meontor observing to offer support if needed.

Arms-length mentoring: Is used when the student has a high level of competency in completing a clinical task. In this situation the student completes the task on their own without the mentor physically present. However, the mentor should be available if the student requires support.

What Does it Mean to be a Mentor?

Here we will look at some of the key roles of the mentor in facilitating the students’ learning:

  • Logical Progression – Make sure that learning activities build a foundation of knowledge. This requires the student to start with simple tasks, working their way up to more complex tasks. The tasks should be of an appropriate size, delivered at an appropriate pace, and in an appropriate learning style.
  • Giving Feedback – It is important that the students’ learning is supervised in order to provide constructive feedback on their performance. It is always important to recognise and praise good performance, but equally poor performance needs to be recognised and addressed in a constructive manner
  • Appropriate Content – The Mentor needs to have a good understanding of the programme that the student is studying. This way, it is possible to offer a range of learning activities that are appropriate for each student depending on the stage in their educational journey. With a good understanding of the academic programme, a mentor can understand what constitutes a learning objective and how to assess whether the student has achieved their objective, some of the learning objectives are set down by the GDC as a requirement, whist others may be personal to the student.
  • Provide Evidence – As required by the programme providers of student achievement or lack of achievement. Just as with any documentation relating to clinical care, mentors are expected to document activity with students and make judgements about their progress in a professional manner. The documents about student learning should be clear and factual.
  • Liaise with Academic Link in Practice (ALP) – Frequent communication between the mentor and the ALP should be used to provide feedback on the students’ progress. This should include: identifying and concerns and agreeing actions.

The Dental Learning Environment

Mentors need to assess the dental environment as a learning tool for the student. Consider the following attributes of the dental environment:

  • Patient Journey – Think about areas of practice and the patient journey. Which areas are there learning opportunities appropriate to the students’ level of experience?
  • Type of patients – Are there a typical type of patient that is seen? How can you ensure that a student has exposure to a full range of patients?
  • Real Work - Make sure that the student engages with the real clinical work. Initially, they will be slower, so make sure that to allow extra time while they are learning.
  • Dental Team – Students must be made to feel part of the whole dental team, only then will the student be able to learn effectively.
  • Learning Resources – Identify learning recourses that facilitate learning. This includes traditional learning resources, as well as other, more experienced members of the dental team.
  • Learning Culture – Look to identify, encourage and embed a culture of learning within the practice, as it is a requirement of the dental regulator that all of the dental team are engaged with learning.