Online or in-person: Choosing the right CE course

Dental school may be over but learning about the best ways to treat your patients and improve your practice never takes a break. With every dentist required to log a minimum amount of continuing education credits each year, juggling courses along with seeing patients can be challenging. The ADA provides members with online and in-person CE opportunities to help dentists balance busy lives as well as meet state licensure requirements.

But how do you know which style is right for you?

Dr. Heffernan

Dr. Heffernan

For Dr. John Heffernan, a general dentist from Strongsville, Ohio, there’s no question: in person CE is the only thing that works for him.

“I enjoy hands-on courses and courses that are multiday,” said Dr. Heffernan who keeps track of his CE by using a spreadsheet. “I love the business aspect of dentistry, and there are a lot of good courses out there for the business aspect of the profession.”

One thing Dr. Heffernan suggests is doing research before committing to a class.

“You never know if you are going to show up to a direct resin CE event and the presenter ends up talking about the importance of loupes for three hours,” he said. “Reading reviews from other dentists always helps. I usually call on my friends in the profession and see what they have found rewarding and worth the investment.”

Dr. Scott Morita, an orthodontist in Honolulu, prefers online courses.

“As a young dentist, it is often difficult to take off work to attend a CE course that requires travel,” he said.

“Since you can take the CE class at your convenience, online CE is necessary for many young dentist who are working six days a week trying pay off the student debt of dental school.”

Dr. Morita

Dr. Morita

Dr. Morita, who is president of the Hawaii Dental Association’s Young Dentist Group, says he saves his CE verification letters to Dropbox, a cloudbased file storage system, each year, so he can reference it at anytime.

“I prefer to receive CE certificates digitally. This makes it easier if you get audited to provide the necessary CE,” said Dr. Morita, who works five days as an orthodontist and
spends a sixth day volunteering at the advanced residency dental programs in Hawaii.

As for what kinds of courses, both Drs. Heffernan and Morita said they enjoy practice management courses.

“If I want to add a new skill to benefit my practice then I will seek that out, or if my practice is in need of some business help then I will look for that,” Dr. Heffernan said. “If I decide to learn a new clinical or business skill then I will seek out all the CE related to that topic and plan accordingly. I try not to bounce around between CE topics so that I can really learn and implement the new knowledge.”

Dr. Morita agreed, saying, both educational and practice management CE classes are “critical for the success of the young dentist today if they want to open their own private practice.”

Looking for CE of your own? ADA CE Online courses are developed by dentists, who understand the practical challenges you face every day. To find a class for you, visit ADA.org/CE. New dentist members receive 50 percent off on ADA CE Online courses using promo code NEWDENTIST.

Check your state continuing education requirements by visiting ADA.org and searching “state continuing education.”

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