Navigating New Partnerships – Amanda Tran ’21

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Just a brief introduction – my name is Amanda Tran and I am currently a D3 at Midwestern-AZ. A little over two and a half months ago, we began our journey into clinic. As expected, clinic presented many new challenges, from navigating Axium to managing and caring for patients – there was just so much to learn! Here at Midwestern, we are paired up with a fellow D4 for the year. We find out who our partners are during our D2 year, and as you can imagine, it’s the talk of the town when we receive the news; all of us buzzing about, asking, “So who’s your partner? Do you think you will work well together?” Some will react with excitement, some with concern, and others with uncertainty. What I have grown to appreciate about our pairing structure is that it gives each of us the opportunity to learn how to practice four-hands dentistry, learn how to communicate effectively, and, most importantly, develop leadership skills. This is not to say the process of learning to work effectively with my partner has not been challenging. Here are a few things I have learned from this experience thus far:

1. Stay patient with your partner. 

D3s, try to remember that your partner had fixed and developed systems, processes and communication methods with their previous D4s. If there is something that is not working for you, just set aside a time to address it with your partner. D4s, try to understand that we are simply trying to develop an effective working relationship with you

2. Invest in each other’s success. 

Building a strong relationship stems from understanding that you both have each other’s best interest in mind. This can be established early on by going over one another’s goals and coming up with a plan on how to reach them together.

3. Support the leader in one another.

Being the leader is quite often, the more glamorous role. What we often forget is that being a good follower is just as valuable. Encourage your partner to become the best leader they can be by giving them feedback and engaging with them. Effective systems can result from critical engagement between leaders and followers. Not to mention, through following, we can each learn what type of leader we want to become. 

4. Set the tone for constant improvement.

Set up regular meetings and stick to them. These are times where you both can discuss way to improve, increase efficiency, or go over your goals. Aside from that, it also gives you an allotted time to put out any fires before they start. Address any concerns or feelings you have early on.

5. Listening is a skill. 

Sometimes it’s hard not to take feedback personally. I like to tell myself this, “Well, better now than later, and on Yelp!”. It truly is a gift to receive feedback from my partner. Remember, as hard as it is for you to take feedback, it can be just as hard to give it.            

From things done right, things done not-so-right and things that weren’t done at all; learning to work alongside my D4 has been quite the ride! For those of you who are in clinic right now, I’m sure you can relate. To those who have not yet made it over, I hope this is something that can help you in the future.

– Amanda Tran ’21

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