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Wisconsin Mentor Program
Posted October 10, 2019 Dr. Gene Shoemaker
The 2019-20 school year at Marquette University School of Dentistry marks the 25th year of the Marquette University School of Dentistry (MUSOD), Wisconsin Dental Association (WDA) and Pierre Fauchard (PFA) Mentor Program in Wisconsin.
The idea for a mentor program in Wisconsin was the brain child of a Wisconsin PFA Fellow. He had read that a wealthy dentist from South America upon his death had left a large sum of money to the PFA to be used to develop mentorship programs around the world. He thought starting a mentor program for the students at MUSOD was a great idea.
To make the program successful, it was thought that it should be a collaboration between the PFA, MUSOD and WDA. Representatives from all three entities worked together to create the program.
The program works by pairing a practicing dentist with dental students to help form mentor-protégé relationships.
The program year kicks off with an annual dinner in the fall where new mentors and protégés meet for the first time and are welcomed into the program by existing participants.
Each mentor-protégé pair defines how they want their relationship to progress, how and when they are in contact, etc. Several organized Mentor Program CE programs and networking events (attending a Marquette University men’s basketball game for instance) are offered throughout the school year to give dentists and students the opportunity to reconnect in person and continue building their professional camaraderie. Informal and face-to-face communication is encouraged and strongly recommended.
Through the Mentor Program, protégées obtain guidance and knowledge necessary to begin a career in the dental profession. Likewise, mentors are able to benefit from this type of professional relationship as well, staying apprised of practice sale opportunities and the interests of soon-to-be dentists. The Mentor Program prides itself as being a great avenue for integrating the dentists of tomorrow with the dental community of today.
The program has seen tremendous growth over the years!
At the program’s start in 1995, 68 mentors and 33% of MUSOD students were involved in the program.
In 2004, 163 mentors and 79% of the students participated in the program.
In 2009, 170 mentors and 84% of the dental students at Marquette were involved in the program.
This year, 177 mentors and 344 protégés (out of 400 students) or 87% of total students are involved in the program.
We are proud of our program in Wisconsin. The program was awarded an American Dental Association Golden Apple award in 2000 for Student Involvement and two mentors who participate in the program – and who are PFA Fellows – have received the American Dental Association’s Golden Apple Award for Leadership in Mentoring. Several PFA Fellows have received similar awards from the WDA for their Outstanding Mentoring activities.
I believe one of the mentors summed up the program very well when he said – “Experience is an extremely useful element of education. The Marquette Mentor program is one more important way to provide the student with important practical perspectives relative to clinical projects and experiences”