Jordan Reiss discusses the benefits of pursuing continuing education
Endodontists understand the power of “Continuing Education” with a capital CE. Licensed professionals who want to continue to practice in their state must earn a certain number of credits each year to keep up with the latest techniques and technology. However, I’m a passionate advocate of going above and beyond these required credits. Continuing education (lowercase, you’ll notice) not only enhances the way you practice, but also makes the way you practice more enjoyable. If you look for opportunities to learn, you’ll discover there are tips and tricks hidden within the systems and software you’re already using that will help improve your diagnosis and treatment planning. Also, taking the initiative to pursue education on your own time, on your own terms, and based on what interests you (or meets the needs of your practice) puts a bit of “fun” back into learning. Other powerful benefits include:
First and foremost, advancing your education should help you reach more efficient and accurate diagnoses. Lifelong learners are always in the know about the “next big thing.” By seeking out educational opportunities, you not only improve the current way you make diagnoses, but you also gain unique insight into the latest techniques and technology that will benefit you and your patients. Seeking the guidance of expert trainers and/or networking with other doctors (if attending a hands-on course) lets you know what you’re doing right in your practice and also what areas you may want to update and improve upon.
The competitive edge
Familiarizing yourself with new ways of practicing and advanced workflows ahead of other doctors gives you an edge when attracting patients and working with referrals. You can impress others with your knowledge and ahead-of-the-curve thinking while being able to market your skill and advanced technology.
A more collaborative team
A focus on education should extend to the entire team. Introducing new technology, such as a cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) system, can be viewed as a disrupter to practice workflow. However, providing continuing education for all team members, from the front office to the back, helps your staff understand how their roles relate to a new imaging system — yielding greater success.
Adopting a multidisciplinary approach
In a previous article, I discussed whether endodontists should be placing implants. Doctors I spoke with told me that they would, in fact, be open to the idea of doing so. Other endodontists would prefer to focus on more trauma cases or more complicated surgical cases. Even endodontists who aren’t ready to take those next steps still ought to use their 3D software to work more seamlessly with referrals. This multidisciplinary approach requires endodontists to stay up-to-date on technology, so they can expand the way they practice.
Considering these benefits, if you decide you want to pursue continuing education for yourself and your team, the following criteria will ensure you’re getting the most out of your training. Continuing education should be:
Many doctors’ busy schedules leave them with the impression that continuing education, beyond what is required by the state, is out of the question. Fortunately, Carestream Dental has taken this into consideration and offers education in multiple formats to suit different schedules and learning styles. There’s free online training that’s open to everyone, as well as more comprehensive training for customers; free monthly webinars, in both basic and intermediate tracks; and hands-on training at many locations around the country. We also partner with various companies, such as implant manufacturers, or associations, such as the AAE, to provide hands-on courses. So it’s easily accessible or timed to be in conjunction with another event.
Last year, I wrote an article about what to look for when purchasing a CBCT system. It may have surprised some doctors that I listed “ongoing training” as a must-have. CBCT manufacturers should all offer on-site training after a system has been installed. But if you limit yourself to only that initial training, you’ll stop learning what CBCT can do for you the moment the company trainer leaves the practice. Instead, doctors should consistently expand upon what they have learned by seeking out training opportunities throughout the year, such as a 3D hands on course.
In today’s digital age, learning has evolved beyond the traditional classroom or lecture-style format, which doesn’t fit everyone’s learning style. And, since this is education you’re pursuing on your own time, it doesn’t need to be as formal as a course designed to earn CE credit. I recently developed a series of four short — only about 2 to 4 minutes each — videos for CS 3D Imaging software users to specifically learn how to share and report on 3D cases with patients and referrals. They’re concise and to the point — yet addictive. I like to think of them in terms of those silly YouTube® cat videos: You have a few minutes of free time and tell yourself, “I’m going to watch only one,” but before you know it, you’ve watched 10 (or more). They’re engaging, easy to “consume” in short “bites,” and usually lead you to similar videos. But unlike cat videos, these educational videos leave you with tips and tricks for making your software work harder for you.
State-mandated CE credits are vital for demonstrating that doctors are treating patients using the latest, safest techniques and technology. Endodontists who want to further enhance their diagnoses, provide state-of-the-art patient care, expand the treatments their practices can offer, and give their teams the knowledge they need to succeed and work better with referrals will find there are many accessible, ongoing, and consumable learning opportunities available if they just know where to look. Whether you’re a Carestream Dental user or not, you can find learning opportunities such as the ones mentioned previously at carestreamdental.com/learn3D.