KDA Today

KDA Today

For Immediate Release

Date: Jun 16th, 2014
Contact: By P. Gay Baughman, DMD, Clinical Assistant Professor, ULSD
Phone: 800-292-1855
Email: info@kyda.org

New Friendships and Lasting Connections Creating a Stronger Interest in Organized Dentistry

The idea of Louisville American Student Dental Association (LASDA)/Louisville Dental Society (LDS) mentoring partnership was sparked at the 2013 LASDA national conference and brought back by two University of Louisville Dental School students, Erin Fraundorf and Charity Vander Wall. They recognized a need to pair practicing dentists with current dental students in a relationship in which all parties would be enriched. Out of this idea from the national conference, Erin and Charity wanted to see this mentoring partnership become a reality at ULSD. In the words of Erin, “LASDA facilitated connections between over 100 local dentists and ULSD students as a free way for both parties to communicate, mutually learn and grow as current and future dentists.  The pairing was chosen based on shared interests, ranging from specialties to sports, cooking and hometowns.”

With the assistance of Susan Broughman-Lewis, Executive Secretary of LDS, the LASDA representatives, Charity, Erin, Thomas Bailey and Matt Riley, approached the members of LDS to sign up as mentors. They shared their vision of building a meaningful and fulfilling relationship between a practicing dentist and a dental student speaking and attending several LDS meetings. This partnership offered the opportunity for the practicing dentist to share his/her experiences and knowledge.

The LDS members offer a glimpse of the future, a light at the end of the dental school tunnel. They are a source for sources, to think beyond the familiar. Students may not know who to call for information about the business world or how to join study clubs. It provides the student someone to consult with about new procedures, things not taught in school. It is wonderful to have a relationship with a wiser and more experienced person and feel comfortable asking for the essential advice for the new dentist. Dr. Carol Summe enjoys having the students; even those in undergrad, visit her office. It is best when you do not have to figure everything out yourself.

Speaking with Dr. Amelia Jacobs, we both remembered the lack of female role models when we were in school. As experienced female dentists we are in a place of opportunity to share our knowledge and skills. Perhaps, we can help a young female dentist discover a capacity for leadership that she never recognized before. This experience can help to shape future plans.

From the point of view of a student, Erin Fraundorf shared, “I have had the opportunity of experiencing the creation of this program as I observe the development of both others’ mentor/mentee relationships as well as my own.  We are unbelievably fortunate to have such supportive, knowledgeable, and encouraging dentists involved in this program through the Louisville Dental Society.  Additionally, I have an incredible mentor, Dr. Amy Farnsworth.  As I finish my second year of dental school and look back, I realize that I have been stuck with my head in books for two years as I learn the sciences of dentistry.  Having a mentor has allowed me to keep my focus in school and remember that what I am doing is truly meaningful as the hard work I put in now will pay off when in two short years I will be a dentist.  My mentor and I were able to enjoy dinner and wonderful conversations with two other mentor/mentee pairs which allowed my classmates and I to further solidify our love for dentistry.   Dr. Farnsworth and I text often and I will be shadowing her soon now that I am no longer a busy second year.  She is truly inspirational as not only a practicing orthodontist, but also as a professional woman, mother and friend.  By interacting with my mentor and observing her success, happiness and knowledge I have really been inspired for the life I have ahead of me in the field of organized dentistry.”

Another student, Beth Merke stated, “The minute I heard about this, I knew it was something I wanted to get involved in! The mentors ranged from General Dentistry to any type of specialty offered in the dental profession.  Personally, I love kids and I knew I wanted more experience in Pediatric Dentistry so I requested to have a Pedodontist as a mentor. I was extremely blessed to be paired with an amazing, funny, well-known Pediatric Dentist, Dr. Keith Ray. It has been such a pleasure to get to know Dr. Ray not only as a dentist, but as a person as well. He has reached out to me and invited me to come shadow at his office, attend dental meetings in the Louisville area, and has introduced me to countless professionals throughout all types of dental specialties. Being able to see how he runs his own office, seek advice, and ask countless questions has given me great insight into the field of Pediatric Dentistry. Taking part in this program has been one of the best decisions I have ever made! Being able to learn so much and gain experience in this specialty, as well as dentistry in general, has helped guide me as I explore all the different career paths that lay before each of us as we begin our dental education.”  Speaking with her mentor, Dr. Keith Ray, he wanted to share his passion, his joy, for his career. He believes there is as much of an advantage to the mentor as the mentee. It brings out your youth and reminds you of the excitement you had as a student. He said, “I wish I had had this when I was in school.” Beth is spending a great deal of time in his office, more than a simple shadowing experience. She is able to really experience what it is like to manage a pediatric practice.

And finally, one more student, Puja Sangoi, reflects on her experience. “It is normal for college students to shadow dentists during their undergraduate years to see if dentistry is a calling for them. After receiving acceptance into dental school, moving cities, and assimilating to the demanding school schedule with no more than two weeks of summer break, it becomes difficult for dental students to maintain contact with their hometown dentist or re-visit the dentist they shadowed in college. The University of Louisville School of Dentistry’s mentoring initiative started by Louisville American Student Dental Association and Louisville Dental Society is truly a beneficial program for current dental students like me. When I signed up for the mentoring program, I had no idea that it would help me form such an opportunistic relationship with someone who would have otherwise been a stranger to me. Initially, the program set up a meet-and-greet for all participants, which made it so easy to break the ice and have that face-to-face first interaction between the mentor and mentee. After the meet-and-greet, Dr. Shellie Branson, my mentor, took the initiative to set up a small group mentor-mentee dinner where we had ample to eat and talk about. One reason this particular mentoring program works well is that both the dentists and the students were given a choice to participate, and no one feels forced to participate. I figured out quickly that when both the mentor and mentee willingly fulfill their roles of reaching out to each other, a successful mentor-mentee relationship is established. As a student, it is refreshing for me to interact with a dentist outside the classroom setting. Of course, I know that Dr. Branson will be available when I want to shadow her practice, but at this point in our dental school careers having a mentor means much more than that. It inspires me when I talk to my mentor about her dental school challenges, triumphs, and the steps she took to establish her practice. It’s fun to exchange stories with each other about dental school happenings nowadays versus when she was in school. It feels reassuring to be paired up with another woman in this field who can relate and talk to me about balancing work and family life from a female dentist’s perspective. Best of all, having a dentist mentor while studying as a dental student is like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. After a week full of tough exams and lab projects, a good talk over dinner with Dr. Branson definitely helps me stay motivated to pursue my future goals in dentistry. I am grateful to have found a mentor who I can look up to, confide in, and count on as I continue my dental career.”

On February 20, 2014, the idea became reality. There was a Meet & Greet at Molly Malone’s offering the opportunity for the mentors and mentees to meet. It was obvious from the lively conversation there were many new friendships. The program gives a chance to have a lasting connection between LDS and LASDA, creating a stronger interest in organized dentistry. We have a challenge to continue to grow the membership of LDS, KDA and the ADA. This is a grass roots way for LDS members to share and model the importance of organized dentistry. The message is stronger and more meaningful when you have a strong collaborative experience. It is clear, mentoring offers compelling benefits.

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