You are the best and brightest dentist in your town, with freshly minted skills and knowledge. How will you maintain that edge and continue to be the best provider that you can be? Through continuing education (CE). Continuing Education is extremely important to keep dentists of all levels on top of their games, since the field is evolving rapidly with new technologies and digital solutions that improve practice efficiency and patient care. Journals are an important resource, but without a well-developed plan including hands-on courses, classes, and lectures, you may lose that edge.
It is widely held that the body of scientific knowledge in healthcare doubles every six months. The one article that may fundamentally change the way you practice and impact the standard of care may be published the day after you graduate from dental school. You need a well thought out plan that will keep you abreast of changes that occur in the profession. You can quickly learn about new approaches that provide better outcomes, happier patients, and a more efficient workflow for you and your staff. Some products or techniques that you currently rely upon may be found to have significant adverse effects, or a newer generation of those products may be described that can make what you learned from your mentors obsolete. You, your patients, and your staff deserve the latest scientific knowledge available.
The Importance of Compliance
Dentists in all 50 states must acquire and maintain a license to practice. The vast majority of states require license renewal every one to three years, and most of those renewals require a prescribed number of CE hours and credits. Many states have specific guidelines on what types of CE they will or will not accept, such as home study versus group education formats, classes on ethics, courses on domestic violence and child abuse recognition, prescribing, and care of the underserved. If you want to continue practicing, you will have to comply with the rules of licensure in your state. State-by-state regulations vary, and links to information on these regulations can be found here.
But CE is not simply designed to keep you out of trouble. Through CE courses, you have the opportunity to improve your skills and learn the latest clinical techniques from qualified, knowledgeable instructors. Thus, your patients can be offered the latest diagnostic, preventive, and therapeutic methods in the industry. Letting your patients know that you are the first dentist in the area to offer this new approach will help with practice marketing as well, since word of mouth from satisfied patients is a powerful tool. Your reputation in the community will improve as a direct result of your cutting-edge approach to dental care.
Opportunities for Professional Development
Continuing education courses are often designed for the dentist to have fun while learning. Some live courses are offered in vacation destinations, and industry conventions such as the ADA Annual Session, Chicago Dental Society’s Midwinter Meeting, and the Greater New York Dental Meeting now feature live patient demonstrations and exhibitions with vendors with whom dentists can interact. Manufacturers will demonstrate new technologies available to improve the efficiency and results achievable in your practice. Many dentists travel to these conferences with their families, combining education with entertainment. You can also meet and network with other dental professionals, opening new career pathways for you as you begin your new position in the dental industry. In almost all cases, traveling to and attending CE courses is a tax deductible expense for you and your practice. Once you return to work that next Monday morning, you can begin to share your new knowledge and clinical “pearls” with other dentists in your practice, your support staff, and your patients.
The Internet has fundamentally changed the way we gain information—and consume CE. Interactive CE courses abound, many more engaging than a printed journal. Interactive education through online webinars (live or archived), instructional videos, and the like allow you and your professional peers to consume CE at your own pace and convenience. Finding high-quality CE courses that fit your needs, schedule, and finances is easy. The American Dental Association and the American Dental Education Association provide numerous self-study programs that are certified for CE credits, and also list links to live CE courses and CE providers. THE NEXTDDS is a leading provider of educational articles, videos, and
webinars, with multimedia courses available free to dental professionals. Your state’s dental licensing board is also a reliable resource for local and national courses for dentists.
Continuing education is a critical component to your ongoing success in practice. While it is true that it is a requirement for licensure, the reasons to actively plan for and seek CE go far beyond that. CE courses keep you sharp, educated, attractive to patients, and marketable for your next career move. Aspen Dental Management Inc., is a great resource for high-quality education for you in your successful career as a dentist and available to support you throughout the journey. Ask us today how we can help!
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