ODHA Website > Students > Transitioning from School to Practice

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Networking for Mentorship

03b76003-copyIn dental hygiene, having an experienced mentor provides many of the same benefits it does in almost every other profession. Mentors are an incredibly useful and comforting support system for graduates looking to enter a new and sometimes daunting profession. It is important to know whether your mentor practises in Ontario as there may be standard and regulatory differences if your mentor practices elsewhere.

Not only are mentors able to provide new and aspiring dental hygienists with practical and professional advice that isn’t readily available in school, but they also help new dental hygienists define and develop their own professional path.

On the one hand, new dental hygienists who pursue and participate in mentorships show prospective employers that they are actively seeking a competitive advantage and are eager to immerse themselves in the profession to advance their career.

On the other hand, mentors themselves often benefit from these relationships. Aside from the opportunity to share their own knowledge, mentoring is a wonderful way of enhancing a dental hygienist’s own practice. It’s also a great way for dental hygienists to stay up-to-date on new technologies and methods to help improve their own client care. For this reason, many highly qualified dental hygienists are eager to join mentorship programs.

For additional information on networking and where to start click here.

Collaboration with other professionals

As defined by the World Health Organization (2010), interprofessional collaboration (IPC) occurs when multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds provide comprehensive health services by working with patients, their families, carers and communities to deliver the highest quality of care across settings.”

Interprofessional collaboration, also called interprofessional practice, can contribute to improved health outcomes, quality of care, client safety, and chronic disease management, as well as greater healthcare provider job satisfaction (World Health Organization, 2010).

With the well-established link between oral health and systemic health, dental hygienists as healthcare providers understand the importance of seeking out opportunities to work and collaborate with other healthcare sectors. This is supported by the CDHO Standards of Practice (2010) that states “as self-regulating professionals, dental hygienists are expected to work effectively and collaboratively within interprofessional health care teams”, “participat[e] in interprofessional learning” and “facilitat[e] client referrals to appropriate health professionals, facilities, programs or government agencies.”

However, IPC may present challenges for dental hygienists considering that the majority work in private dental practices with limited collaborative opportunities, as compared to other healthcare professionals working in multidisciplinary practices such as hospitals, community health centres, and family health teams.

For graduate dental hygienists transitioning into practice, IPC can be even more intimidating. As their experience shifts from academic to clinical practice, IPC takes on greater significance and involves increasingly more complex interactions with others, including multiple healthcare disciplines, families, caregivers, and communities.

Common obstacles faced by healthcare providers in IPC include lack of training, knowledge, experience, confidence, and opportunities, as well as “turf” protection, communication challenges, and balancing practice expectations. Facilitators of IPC involve practical experience, knowledge of other professions, mutual respect, opportunities, supportive relationships, and confidence (Pfaff et al, 2014; Grant & Finnocchio, 1995). Confidence is required to effectively engage in IPC. New graduates can enhance their confidence by increasing IPC learning, networking, practice, and experience.

ODHA has compiled a list of resources that new graduates as well as experienced dental hygienists can access to increase their knowledgebase on IPC.

To engage IPC, dental hygienists need to use the knowledge of their roles and those of other professions to assess and address the healthcare needs of their clients. Thus it is essential for new graduates to learn about other healthcare providers’ roles, responsibilities, and scopes of practice.

HealthForceOntario provides a list of health care providers, associations, provincial and national associations/societies and regulatory colleges that provide additional information for regulated health professionals).

Members of the Interprofessional Team:
  • Dentists & dental specialists
  • Dental assistants
  • Denturists
  • Family physicians
  • Massage therapists
  • Medical specialists, e.g. endocrinologists, orthopaedic surgeons, cardiologists, oncologists
  • Midwives
  • Naturopathic doctors
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Occupational therapists
  • Personal support workers
  • Pharmacists
  • Speak-language pathologists
  • Social workers

Additionally, it is important for new grads to research services offered by healthcare providers in their workplace’s community, in order to establish relationships with colleagues who can be consulted for guidance, information, and client referral. Developing healthy interprofessional relationships takes time, energy and practice but is necessary to facilitate collaborative client-centred practice and experience. It is also the foundation for collaboration and partnerships which will lead to reciprocal communication, respect, and referrals. Establishing interprofessional relationships will foster the new graduate’s experience within IPC.

Oral-systemic links highlight commonalities between dental hygiene, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, medicine, and other healthcare disciplines. These commonalities can lead to effective collaborative models because of shared client outcomes that promote wellness and coordinated care. The opportunities for dental hygienists to collaborate with other healthcare providers has increased over the years with dental hygienists’ ability to practice independently and in alternative practice setting.

Support for successful interprofessional collaboration is required at the health team and organizational levels. ODHA supports its members through professional development and peer networking opportunities (e.g. ODHA ProvinciaLINK, Re-energize Conference) as well as updates through the Focus newsletter*, ODHA Board Reports, & e-bulletins.

* April 2016, Pharmacist, part 1, page 5
* July 2016, Pharmacist, part 2, page 5
* Sept 2016, Midwife, page 6


CDHO. (2010). Dental Hygiene Standards of Practice. Toronto: College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario.

Grant, R., & Finnocchio, L. (1995). Common barriers to interprofessional healthcare team work. Interdisciplinary Collaborative Teams in Primary Care: A Model Curriculum and Resource Guide. San Francisco: Pew Health Professions Commission.

Pfaff, K., Baxter, P., Jack, S., & Ploeg, J. (2014). Exploring new graduate nurse confidence in interprofessional. International Journal of Nursing Studies.

World Health Organization. (2010). Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice. Geneva: World Health Organization.