Women and mentoring in dentistry

Posted on March 8, 2019

At Simplyhealth, we're proud to have a strong female leadership. Five of the seven members of our executive leadership team are women and over 65% of our overall workforce are female.

AU Caroline Coleman - MentoringIn celebration of International Women's Day today (8th March), Caroline Coleman, a Managing Director at Simplyhealth, and Catherine Rutland, Head of Professional Support Services, share their thoughts on the value of mentoring within the dental industry:

Q: What would you say are the biggest obstacles in the dental profession for women specifically or in general?

Caroline: There's never enough time in the day, no matter what profession you work in, but it's certainly true in a dental practice with emergencies, clinical and practice work. You have to make sure you're planning your time most effectively, focus on what's important and urgent, but always keep an eye on what's changing.

Catherine: Your emotional development is as important as clinical development and not taking enough time for yourself can become an obstacle. As women we're renowned for being bad at that. It can feel like we're being selfish, but to protect ourselves and be able to give the most back to everybody else we do need to take time for ourselves. It will benefit everyone else in the long term as well.

Q: What benefits does mentoring bring to an organisation?

Caroline: I would highly recommend everybody to have a mentor or coach. I currently have three for different topics where I can have confidential conversations about me as an individual and my aspirations. I've seen much improved confidence from people that have undergone mentoring. It can give you a sense of achievement and a chance to look at all the things you've done well that month or could have done better. It helps people become self-aware.

Catherine: I've been very lucky, I've had specific people as mentors in different areas of my life. I have no hesitation in asking if I can call them for a chat. One of the things you learn from either being a mentor or being mentored is reflection. In my opinion, everyone in the dental profession should have a mentor. It would massively shift the dynamics of the profession and inspire people to do things that they haven't even thought about doing.

Q: What sort of advice would you give to your younger selves looking back?

Catherine: Have belief in yourself, remember that you can change pathways later so take opportunities, be brave and push yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone.

Caroline: Remain true to your values and beliefs. Don't change who you are. Make the most of absolutely every opportunity that's put in front of you and never let anyone tell you that you can't. If you really believe in it and put the hard work in, anything is possible.

Simplyhealth is the UK's leading provider of health plans, dental plans and pet health plans, which help individuals, families, employees and pets to get support with their health when they need it.

Caroline Coleman is Managing Director of Simplyhealth Professionals, and leads Simplyhealth's dental and vets business. Dr Catherine Rutland is Head of Professional Support Services, and leads the team that provides assistance to member dentists, helping to support them with all aspects of running their practices successfully.