So much to do, so little time!

Weare constant students. How about you? Many of you love to go to continuing-education courses to expand your knowledge and expertise, and to enjoy the camaraderie of colleagues who share the continuous path of learning with you.

We are constant students. How about you? Many of you love to go to continuing-education courses to expand your knowledge and expertise, and to enjoy the camaraderie of colleagues who share the continuous path of learning with you. However, there are a lot of courses out there and you only can devote so much time away from the practice to them. How do you select the right courses for you and your team?

Several criteria can help you make your continuing education decisions:

1) Write down the goals you hope to accomplish in your practice. What do you consider the ideal practice? Make it your goal to make this practice a reality. Think about what kind of dentistry you would be providing if you were doing exactly what you want to do.

Once you decide what type of treatment you would like to provide, think carefully about the next essential element: How would you like to provide that care? In other words, what management systems must be in place in order for you to practice the way you want to practice? You cannot separate clinical expertise and management expertise.

Study the clinicians and coaches who support your professional philosophy. Read their articles and books. Study their work. Go to courses where they are presenting and get a feel for what they do and how they do it. Once you feel there is a match between you and the instructor, consider a more in-depth course of study with him or her. If you really want to master a skill, we recommend in-depth study.

2) Establish a budget for continuing education.This budget will vary from practice to practice, so you will have to determine what is appropriate for you based on your needs and desires. For example, if you are interested in developing your clinical skills in a certain area, such as comprehensive restorative, implants, or cosmetic dentistry, then a hands-on continuum would be invaluable for building your confidence and skills. These courses require time and money. However, if you commit to integrating learning into your practice, the course will pay for itself quickly and multi-fold.

3) Call references about the speaker.People with whom you are considering a course of study should be happy to provide you with a list of references and testimonials. If you are going to invest time and money - and follow a particular line of study - you want to make sure that the study has proven effective for other practices.

Also, call the office of the educator and speak with him or her, as well as a member of the organization who will be able to share valuable information. You have the right to gather as much information as possible and to have your questions answered.

4) Remember to include continuing education as a part of your team development. A desirable attribute of a team member is to want to learn and to continually get better.

5) Stick with one philosophy of instruction long enough to gain true insights and knowledge. You can gain knowledge from each instructor, but jumping from one philosophy and method to another can be confusing and can take away from your success.

For example, if you use a product that has been developed by a great company, but mix it with a product from another great company, you might not get positive results. This doesn’t mean that the products and companies aren’t good. However, when you mix them together, they may not be compatible and you may take away from the integrity of both. The same can be true in your clinical and management training.

Growth vs. stagnation

Determine what you want to do and how much time and money you can set aside for your educational development. You cannot grow, increase production, or pursue fulfillment in the profession if you allow yourself to stagnate. Remember to include continuing education as a part of your team development. One of the best investments you’ll ever make is education - for you and your team!

Jameson Management Inc. is an international lecture and consulting firm that provides instruction and coaching in four vital areas of practice development: communication, business, hygiene and clinical efficiency, and technology. For more information on how to take your practice to the next level, contact JMI at (877) 369-5558 or visit the company’s Web site at www.jamesonmanagement.com.

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