A decade of rural dentistry mentoring in Swan Hill

For the last decade, Dr John Harrison has been mentoring graduates from Melbourne Dental School at his rural practice in Swan Hill, in northwest Victoria. Not just an advocate for the benefits of mentoring for new graduates, Dr Harrison believes he gets just as much as he gives from the experience.  His reasons are two-fold: his mentee’s passion for first-class dentistry is infectious, and the eager eyes of a graduate in the clinic mean that even after 30 years John remains engaged in the pursuit of excellence in his own practice.

“All of the recent graduates we have mentored at the practice have cultivated a highly stimulating environment that is a joy to work in,” says Dr Harrison. “They really want to do their very best and they keep me on my toes because I have to justify the way I work and know that it stands up to scrutiny!”

Under Dr Harrison’s watchful eye his mentees can perfect their practice much more quickly than they would otherwise.

Dr Rachael McDonald (BDSc 2005) recalls that when she was being mentored by Dr Harrison at the Swan Hill Dental Group she felt confident to, “have a go at the more complex procedures and treatment plans due to the support and mentoring John gave me”.

Dr Harrison says that there is something particularly special about the Melbourne Dental School graduates he has mentored.

“They are all vitally interested in dentistry and all have been anxious to produce first-treatment outcomes for their patients. But if I had to put it down to one thing it is their attitude to the ‘business of dentistry’—maintaining the commercial side of running a practise while keeping patients’ health as the topmost priority— that most impresses me” says Dr Harrison.

Ten Melbourne Dental School graduates have been fortunate to have been mentored by Dr Harrison at the Swan Hill Dental Group. Undoubtedly there will be many more whose practices will shape and be shaped by a mutual exchange of knowledge and passion for first-class dentistry.