Live and learn!

March 1, 2003
Mandatory continuing education has been a very good thing for dentistry. I have been teaching continuing-education courses to dentists and staff members for over 20 years.

Louis Malcmacher, DDS

Mandatory continuing education has been a very good thing for dentistry. I have been teaching continuing-education courses to dentists and staff members for over 20 years. I am a proud continuing-education junkie, having taken hundreds of hours of courses in the last few years. How can you get the most out of the continuing-education courses you need to take?

First of all, if you are going to a course, you might as well make it a very positive experience for you and your staff. Get a good night's sleep. If you come well-rested, your mind will be sharp, your body will be sharp, and the day will go much easier for you. Also, bring coffee and bottled water with you to the course. This will keep you well-hydrated and awake.

Next, turn off your cell phones and pagers when you walk into the room. Cell phones and pagers going off during a course are impolite. On second thought, let's call it like it is — it's just plain rude! Not only does it bother the speaker, it disturbs other attendees at the course and is very disruptive, especially if you answer the phone and start talking! I know we're all important, but let's first and foremost be considerate of our colleagues who also are spending their valuable time trying to learn something new.

The next rule in attending a continuing-education course is a big one — you must learn to bring your staff with you! Your staff members need to hear what you hear. They need to get as excited about the new technique or material as you are. The only way that is going to happen is if you bring your staff with you so that you can all go through the continuing-education experience as a team.

The next point is also very important. If something is not clear to you during the lecture, ask questions! If you have a question, other people in the audience probably have the same question, but are too timid to ask it. As a lecturer, I strongly encourage questions because they help me identify some of the areas that I may not have explained as well as I thought. I have never given a lecture where I didn't learn something from the people attending the course. Continuing education should be a free exchange of ideas, especially when we are dealing with a highly intellectual and talented group of people such as those making up the dental community. So, ask a lot of questions!

Now some words of admiration and advice to my esteemed colleagues who are dental lecturers and teachers. We really are privileged today to have so many excellent dental educators who give courses across the country. Show your passion when you are giving a course. I have been on many panels and symposiums with you. I see your passion and I see your excitement for what you do. Share that with your audiences. A great man once said, "A mediocre teacher tells, a good teacher educates, and a great teacher inspires." Let's inspire each other by educating our colleagues so that they can provide the best dental care in the entire world.

By the way, when you give a course, a little humor would be in order, too. Let your great personalities hang out a little bit. Don't be afraid to let people know you on a personal level as well.

If you give CE courses or you take them, continuing education is a wonderful way to open your mind, help you enjoy dentistry, and make your dental practice more interesting and fun. There has never been a better time to be a dentist or to learn about the wonderful world of treatments that we can offer patients. Let's all enjoy the experience together, as we grow and inspire each other in making dentistry in America the best it can be for years to come!

Dr. Louis Malcmacher is an international lecturer and author, known for hiscomprehensive and entertaining style.An evaluator for Clinical Research Associates, Dr. Malcmacher is a consultant to the Council on Dental Practice of the ADA. For close to two decades, Dr. Malcmacher has inspired his audiences to truly enjoy practicing dentistry by providing the knowledge necessary for excellent clinical and practice-management skills. His group dental practice has maintained a 45 percent overhead since 1988.For details about his speaking schedule, Dr. Malcmacher can be reached at (440) 892-1810 or via email at [email protected].

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