We knew all along. We knew there were things we were not learning while we were in school. Now, we’ve made it out. We are practicing dentists. We’ve climbed the mountain, celebrated, taken a deep breath, and turned around to find ourselves at the bottom of another mountain. We know there are things we don’t know. Now what? How do I decide where to start? How do I prioritize what CE warrants my time, effort and money?
Before elaborating on choosing CE, let me say this: First of all, give yourself a break. You don’t have to save the world your first year as a practicing dentist (even though it kind of feels like you can once you’re treating more than 2-3 patients per day). Use your training to approach cases and treatment conservatively as you build up your confidence and skill level. Don’t get in over your head early. Personally, I believe I spent about six months focusing on my job prior to taking any CE after school.
Once you’re ready to get back at it, make CE choices that benefit you and your patients. After some time practicing, you should have a feeling in your “gut” that if you just knew how to __________ or ________ your patients would benefit and you would feel like a more proficient dentist. Once you have that feeling you are more than halfway there.
I have found that asking myself the question: “Is this good Bang for My Buck?” has consistently helped me make good decisions about how I prioritize my CE. I consider three areas when answering this question to myself:
1. Will learning ____________ benefit the majority of my patients, or a few?
2. Is this topic something very limited or specific, or something I can build upon in the future?
3. Is there a hands-on component to this course, or will I potentially leave this course without the confidence I need to implement what I was suppose to learn?
Answers to these questions usually guide my decisions. I prefer to attend CE that offers benefit to the largest number of patients possible, on a topic or area that can consistently be built upon or integrated into multiple procedures, and especially those that include a hands-on component.
Early on in my career, I found myself focusing on CAD-CAM dentistry and bone grafting procedures. I had come to the realization that the majority of my patients would benefit if I increased my skills in these areas. Also, a basic foundation in these topics is beneficial, but you can learn an extensive amount with either, and continue to build your skills and expand the number of billable procedures you provide. Again, once you know what you want to learn, incorporating a hands-on component will make you that much more confident as you implement your knowledge and new techniques in clinical practice.
For new dentists looking to pick up some valuable CE, I suggest that these two areas are not a bad place to start. Incorporating CAD-CAM dentistry into your practice opens up a lot of treatment options and office scheduling benefits that are not available without it. Also, implant dentistry continues to develop and become a more commonly selected treatment option. Bone grafting and socket preservation procedures help patients obtain optimal treatment results, can often be performed quite easily, and will in many cases be the difference between success and failure concerning fixed prosthodontic and/or implant treatment options. Go get that Bang for Your Buck!
For more information on online and in-person continuing education opportunities, click here.
Dr. Brenden Moon is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and currently serves as Chair of the Illinois State Dental Society New Dentist Committee and sits on the Board of the Illinois Academy of General Dentistry. He began practicing in western Illinois after completing dental school at the University of Mississippi in 2007, and enjoys participating in organized dentistry on the state and national level. Dr. Moon practices in both Public Health and Private Practice settings and is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, International College of Dentists, Academy of Dentistry International, and the Pierre Fauchard Academy