So you recently completed four (or three, I’m looking at you UoP Alumni) rigorous years of training. Countless exams. Late nights. Too much coffee. Not enough sleep. Now you have been asked to join a “study club?” Give me a break. After graduation, that’s the furthest thing from many of our minds. Fear not. I’m here to break down the many perks of these types of orgs. Oh, and congratulations!
What exactly is a study club? They typically consist of a small group of dentists that meet regularly to improve and enhance their practice and attend continuing education events. The goal is to create a fun and welcoming environment where we can help each other develop and grow skill sets.
You have probably heard of some of the renowned ones: Spear, Dawson Academy, Seattle Study Club, etc. David Burger had an excellent write-up in the ADA News earlier this year about some of them. While you may find some clubs are geared toward a specific interest or area of study (e.g. sedation dentistry, literature review), I’m confident you will be able to find one that speaks to your interests. They typically begin with an opportunity to socialize, transition into case reviews (bring your own to discuss), and conclude with a lecture/presentation over dinner. Some are known to be primarily social events, while others have a more rigid educational structure, and everything in between. Many clubs will allow you to attend a session before paying any dues (if applicable), so you’re able to see if it’s a good fit.
Dentistry can feel lonely at times. As a new grad, you may be actively seeking networking opportunities. While your local dental society is a great start, participation in a study club helps develop your dental community. Many clubs consist of a smattering of specialists and generalists at various stages in their career. This alone provides an excellent opportunity to deepen your dental knowledge. Whether you’re a generalist or specialist, when you’re first starting out, developing an intimate referral base can be difficult. By joining a club, it’s easier to continue to develop your personal treatment philosophies, while finding and evaluating the level of quality you expect. The case presentation aspect is an excellent opportunity to suss out treatment ideologies. Your thoughts on a complex case can be easily heard; recommendations can easily be given.
Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I have found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” A study club provides a laid-back environment where you’re encouraged to share failures. Feel free to pepper in your successes for good measure.
With COVID-19 clearing your spring schedule, and a vast amount of quality CE available, you may have already blazed through your state requirements. If that’s the case, you’re probably feeling a little burned out on webinars. I’m right there with you. Due to social distancing regulations, many study clubs have been forced to transition to web-based meetings. Don’t let this dissuade you from participating. The content is the same, and the camaraderie is still very much alive. In fact, many of us have grown closer through this crisis.
These virtual meetings to discuss reopening woes, PPE shortages, and how to best elevate the quality of care we’re able to deliver to our community have been a welcomed addition. Once social distancing restrictions have been eased, we will likely see a gradual transition back to the traditional format, though some may adopt a hybrid model. Convenience is key.
It’s easy to see how these clubs help build confidence, and boost your clinical practice. So talk to your colleagues about what clubs they are a part of and see if there’s room for one more enthusiastic dentist. With the sheer number of clubs out there, it should be a breeze finding the right fit. If you are hard-pressed to find one that suits your needs, you can always start your own. I’m happy to help.
Dr. Adam Kennedy is the president-elect of the Seattle King County Dental Society, the founder of the Seattle New Dentist Study Club, and owns AJK Family Dentistry in Bellevue, Washington. Hailing from the Windy City, he received his bachelor’s degree in Biology at Loyola University Chicago before attending Case Western Reserve University for his DMD. After graduation, he completed a GPR at the University of Washington. He has since returned as an affiliate instructor to guide residents through IV sedation in the Advanced General Dentistry clinic. He is a member of the ADA, Washington State Dental Association and the Seattle-King County Dental Society. He can be found running the Washington trails with his wife, Janelle, and mini bernedoodle, Hank.