A. Nasti

Stony Brook Dental School (UNITED STATES)
Dental students must manage multiple sources of stress especially during their formative clinical years in dental school. Simultaneously, as part of being a professional, these same students have an inherent responsibility of serving in a leadership role while in dental school. It is recognized that the development of coping mechanisms to diminish the damaging effects of the constant and increasing intensity of the levels of stress is important for every level of dental students. This study evaluated a peer mentoring program at Stony Brook Dental School to determine student perceptions of its benefits and to identify areas for improvement. Data were collected through a monthly survey sent out to all Year 2 and Year 3 dental students. The twenty item survey was based on anonymous student responses prior to the posting of final grades to elicit student assessment of the peer mentoring program, from both a mentor and mentee perspective. Ninety percent of the student body participated with representation from our D-2 and D-3 student body population. The second year students were the recipients of the mentoring and the third year students were carefully calibrated to enable them to be the leaders of this program. Year 2 students found this peer mentoring program an effective tool in the development of the critical thinking skills deemed necessary by the third year students who had successfully completed the clinical course a few months prior. The instruction and training provided during these sessions was not tutoring – a reiteration of the material presented in class – but rather additional content that would facilitate the student’s success in the course. Various strategies, that may otherwise be obvious to someone who has gone through the course, are given to incoming students as an aid to their mastery of the material and techniques. Year 3 students found this peer mentoring program an effective tool in the development of their leadership skills and further mastery of and exposure to the foundation knowledge they had already learned. This study suggests that supplemental instruction is an important part of the overall learning process.