Penntorship: The value of mentoring during a pandemic

Julie R. Berenblum, Kylie T. Schlesinger, Iyayi O. Aigbokhan, Mark S. Wolff, Joan I. Gluch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


COVID-19 presented learning and social challenges for dental and high-school students alike due to isolating environments with fewer interpersonal interactions. After recognizing these challenges, two pre-doctoral dental students developed Penntorship, a program at University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine, where dental students’ mentor students at West Philadelphia High School (WPHS) utilizing online technology. Purpose: This survey study explored the benefits of a newly developed mentoring program, Penntorship, for mentors and mentees. Methods: Seventy dental students volunteered to mentor WPHS students throughout the 2020–2021 school year. After receiving training by Mentor Independence Region, mentors coordinated weekly meetings with mentees on Zoom to assist with homework assignments, discuss interests, and assess mentee's career goals. Over six months, 185 mentor meetings were held by 56 dental students with 28 different high-school students participating in the program. Surveys were distributed and analyzed to determine outcomes of the program. Results: Survey results revealed that both dental students and high-school students gained new friendships, improved communication skills, and developed a positive perspective during the pandemic. Conclusion: With online learning formats and social distancing during the pandemic, dental students expressed a need for more social interaction. Penntorship served to support dental students during this challenging year and filled a social need for young individuals in the community. Both mentors and mentees benefited from the program and will continue to work together in the coming academic year. *IRB approval obtained 8/30/2021.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1326-1331
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • COVID-19 Pandemic
  • community-based dental education
  • dental student
  • distance learning
  • mentoring
  • mentorship
  • social distancing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Dentistry


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