Should mentoring be routinely introduced into general dental practice to reduce the risk of occupational stress?

Robert Seath, David Radford, L. P. A. Mudford, D. P. Reed

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Introduction - Occupational stress within general dental practice can potentially have both an adverse impact on a practitioner’s wellbeing and the quality of the healthcare provided by that individual. Mentoring has routinely been utilised in other professions for stress management, however, there is little in the dental literature discussing the benefits of routine mentorship on the reduction of occupational stress for general dental practitioners.

Aim - The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions of experienced foundation dental trainers within the Health Education, Kent, Surrey and Sussex postgraduate deanery as to the usefulness of routine mentoring as a tool to reduce occupational stress. Methods Using a qualitative approach, six individual semi-structured interviews were undertaken. Recorded interviews were transcribed and transcriptions were analysed using thematic coding to identify overarching themes.

Results - Both similarities and differences with the existing literature on routine mentoring within professional settings were identified. Foundation dental trainers were positive towards the concept of routine mentoring, although there was also a degree of scepticism regarding the potential uptake amongst colleagues. There was a perception that mentoring might more practically be used as a reactionary tool. Multiple potential barriers to routine mentoring were identified, included funding, scheduling and a lack of training.

- The analysis identified that currently, experienced foundation dental practitioners do not consider routine mentoring as a practical option in the prevention of occupational stress. The results would suggest that further education is required as to the benefits of routine mentoring as a strategy for occupational stress management. However, with additional resources buying time, a hybrid model of mentoring and coaching has significant potential in general dental practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-125
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2019


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