Why Do Training?
One of our obligations as dental professionals is to take part in a specified minimum number of hours per year of continuing professional development, or CPD. There are compulsory core subjects, like how to resuscitate a patient who collapses, law and ethics for dental practices, and x ray safety. But it is left to us to decide what and how much we do of the other topics, and there is a huge industry built around providing this training.
Ella and I are off on Wednesday evening to a “hands on” course on how to place white fillings. It’s a bit alarming as a patient to consider that your dentist might need training on this – surely filling teeth is a prerequisite for dentists? But in fact the techniques and materials used for restoring teeth with tooth coloured composite, or white fillings, are unrecognisable from even a few years ago, and if we didn’t keep up to date, our patients would not be receiving the proper care. By the same token I am a member of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and take part in many events they run. Cosmetic dentistry has changed dramatically even since I became a member in 2010, with far fewer of the “10 years younger” type full mouth veneer makeovers and much more minimally invasive dentistry.
Of course, we don’t just do clinical updates. For example, there are business training sessions too. It might not be immediately evident how it benefits a patient for us to be able to market our services efficiently, or to record in and read from an excel spreadsheet, but these are actually examples of vital skills. Business skills enable us to run a profitable practice, which in turn means that we can invest in up to date equipment. By the same token, if I can’t communicate clearly to a patient why they need a particular vital treatment, they may decline something that is demonstrably in their best interests to receive.
Although I spend vast amounts of my own time attending courses and conferences (around a day a fortnight on average last year), and many more hours reading about dentistry (you will frequently find me curled up with a dental magazine and a cup of coffee and a biscuit, the latest Lee Child lying abandoned by my side in favour of the thrills of instrumentation for crown preparation) I consider it time well spent – and indeed I really enjoy increasing my knowledge in this way. I can’t imagine there are many industries which have changed more than dentistry has in the 25 years since I qualified, and it is exciting to work in such a dynamic profession.
And now I am off to work – a day spent revising how to help a collapsed patient and how to diagnose a medical emergency with the rest of the staff at the practice. Better stock up on the coffee and biscuits.