This Saudi Dentist Has 4 Mentor Mantras
As we progress in our careers, it’s important to find support through professional and personal networks. Dr. Alaa Husni Qari, a postdoctoral resident in geriatric dental medicine, believes that having mentorship is integral to building knowledge in your field, but also to personal success.
As a professor at Umm Al-Qura University College of Dentistry in Makkah City, Saudi Arabia, her focus is on dental public health, with a concentration in health communication and promotion. Her doctoral research is centered on assessing the quality of mobile dental apps.
“I lead teams to develop dental home-care programs that will improve access to dental care for older adult patients living in the Makkah Region, Saudi Arabia,” she tells CircleAround. “I am bringing all the knowledge, expertise, and skills from both my doctoral program and residency to develop a dental home-care program for the older adult population.”
Qari — who says she couldn't have gotten to where she is today without the help of mentors — gave CircleAround some advice on how to make the most of a mentorship experience.
1. Redefine Your Definition of Who a Mentor Can Be
We often think about mentors only in the professional sense — a boss, or someone with years of experience in a chosen field. But Qari says mentors can come in many different forms.
“Mentors can be friends or an instructor,” Qari tells CircleAround. She also encourages people to ask their mentors' recommendations for other mentors. “Learn how to benefit from the mutual connections with someone you want to approach,” she wrote on Medium. “Do not be afraid to ask your network for introductions either through emails or personally!”
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Seek a Second Opinion
It’s easy to get so engrossed in your work that you lose sight of the details. Part of having a mentor involves reaching out to them to help you make decisions, increase your knowledge on a subject, or simply to gut-check what’s on your mind.
“A change in mindset helps you navigate conflicts, and ups and downs in your journey,” says Qari. Seeking out the advice of a mentor can help you think of an obstacle differently. Qari suggests asking yourself, “What is this trying to teach me?” in terms of challenges. If you feel unsure about something, a mentor can help guide you in the right direction.
3. Open Yourself Up to Networking Opportunities
Qari attributes so much of her success to the conversations and connections she’s made in real life. “Attending the UNLEASH Global Innovation Lab opened my eyes to international work and collaboration, where I worked on the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN with Global talents — people who share the same passion and speak the language of public health.”
Her study abroad experiences opened up new doors. She completed her doctoral degree at Boston University and was exposed to a new cohort of like-minded students, instructors, and collaborators. She became a student consultant with international organizations and participated in U.S.-based conferences and events like hackathons, all of which led her to develop a large network of mentors.
4. Seek Mentors Working in Other Fields
Mentors also don’t have to be strictly from your field of study. Qari lives by the phrase, “Curiosity is the key to creativity” and knows that it’s always good to remain curious and explore other fields.
“Have a mentor in different aspects of your journey where you need the support,” she suggests. “I have a mentor in leadership, project management, and entrepreneurship/business.” She knows it’s important to diversify in order to provide the best care for her communities back in Saudi Arabia.