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CDS Mentor Program connects students, new dentists with experienced professionals

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by Joseph DeRosier

Dental students and dentists came together at the Midwinter Meeting Thursday, Feb. 23, to enjoy a buffet luncheon while learning more about the Chicago Dental Society's Mentor Program.

The luncheon was hosted by CDS and Chicago area dental schools, the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry and Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine – Illinois in Downers Grove.

The Mentor Program introduces students and new dentists to dental professionals active in organized dentistry and gives students a resource to learn about important aspects of their future career.

Stephen Martin, a UIC fourth-year dental student who attended the event, said he has taken advantage of the CDS Mentor Program in the past and has had several CDS dentists, especially some from the Kenwood/Hyde Park Branch, help him along the way.

"I've definitely had some very successful conversations," he said. "It started in the second year of dental school.

Mr. Martin said that some of the mentor dentists who have helped include Kimberley Bolden, Rodney Blaney and Sherece Thompson.

"They've been very instrumental in filling me in on the steps along the process and taking an interest in my family life with me and keeping me up to date on things that are going on at CDS and things I should be paying attention to as I get through my education," he said.

He said the best advice he has received is to keep an open mind and to continuously stay on time of his education opportunities.

"With an open mind you want to be able to take in all types of patients, be able to do all types of procedures and be mobile if you can location wise," he said.

CDS Past-president Paul Landman, 2002, said he thinks students miss a real opportunity if they don't take advantage of participating in the Mentor Program.

"What the mentors have to offer is really spectacular," said Dr. Landman, who has been a mentor since the program started about 25 years ago. "I'm actually disappointed when I can't hook up with one of my mentees."

He said he mentored his daughter when she was in dental school.

"I know that the future of dentistry is in the young people, and I always want to do whatever I can to encourage young people's interest and I think I set a pretty good example of what you can do in dental practice if you work hard and do things right," Dr. Landman said.

He tells other dentists that being a mentor is rewarding.

"The young people have energy and they are interested and if we can invoke a little passion in them it's good for the profession," he said.

Angelica Alvarez, the assistant director of student and diversity affairs at the UIC College of Dentistry, who helps students noted, "At orientation we let (students) know they have this mentor program for the next four years that they can join.

“Our students, they love the program, they are always coming down to sign up for the mentors, I think if anything we have too many students and not enough mentors," she said. Students "are really excited to get their mentor" when they are finally linked to a CDS dentist, she added.
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