The concept of a dental implant study club is not new. Organizations such as the International Congress of Oral Implantology and the Seattle Study Club® have sponsored various forms of study groups in the past. Study clubs provide a major opportunity for dentists to meet with other dentists and team members in a friendly, nonthreatening environment. Members can increase their knowledge of new concepts, materials, techniques, and devices.
In 1992, Dr. Michael Cohen, founder of the Seattle Study Club, reported the advantages of local-level dental implant study groups as a means to educate and increase patient referrals to the implant dentist. His initial concept was based on the team approach with surgical specialist training and education of referring dentists about the multiple facets of implant dentistry.
Also in the early 1990s, Ken W.M. Judy, ICOI chairman, created the concept of dental implant study clubs supported by a worldwide implant organization. Through the ICOI’s national networking organization, local study clubs emerged. This sponsorship helped provide continuing education credits, speaker lists, agenda topics, and certificates. Association with a well-known affiliate organization gave credibility to local groups, which in turn fostered growth.
Several well-known clinicians have advocated the concept of a dental study club. Author, clinician, and lecturer Frank Spears has taught numerous CE courses using the study club model. He identifies the following criteria for success: a respected mentor, open feedback, multiple points of view, a clear mission and structure, and attention to the changing needs of participants. Dr. Gordon Christensen believes study clubs should be encouraged in all clinical disciplines.
With an increase in the number of dental implant patients, the profession will see greater involvement of the general dentist in implant treatment phases. General dentists have many CE options to learn about implants. Those involved in a continuum of education become more comfortable with treatment techniques and are more likely to recommend these procedures.
Study clubs can bring quality implant education to groups of local dentists, eliminating the need for travel. Small groups make it easier to share everyday clinical experiences and help build valuable referral networks. The local study club organizer handles dues, plans course schedules, maintains member contact information, and records attendance. He/she should market the attendance of club meetings, as well as distribute CE credits or attendance verification.
Study clubs can be organized a number of ways - full- or half-day programs, lab and product update programs, staff training and education, or clinical sessions. The evening session is most popular, allowing doctors to attend after hours. The number of sessions, dates, and times are up to the organizer. Food is usually provided. Meetings can be held at local dental offices, conference centers, hospitals, or schools, depending upon the number of participants.
Groups can be set up with officers or an advisory board. Recently, the American Academy of Implant Dentistry established a study club committee. The committee recommends that the study club organizer (or president) be a credentialed member of the AAID and act as a mentor to participants. Local study clubs usually have a name. If desired, individual groups can form bylaws describing officer positions, duties, terms of election, etc.
Dues are usually determined, paid, and collected by the study club organizer or elected treasurer. Dues cover speakers’ fees, food and beverage costs, facility fees, and audiovisual needs. The club can apply for tax-free status if desired. Consult your state’s individual laws.
Possible lecture topics include treatment planning, marketing, surgery, prosthetics, staff training, diagnosis, medical evaluation, anesthesia, and diagnostics. Many clubs find it beneficial to provide financial planning, practice management, and other general or specialty courses.
Lecture format is the most popular structure, although clinical sessions and literature reviews are excellent adjuncts. Small groups often allow greater participatory involvement with either lab work or hands-on training.
A study group’s largest expense is often the speaker’s honorarium. National implant organizations and other specialty groups can be good sources for speakers, as well as dental school faculty and state and local dental societies. The AAID’s Speaker’s Guild has credentialed lecturers. Speakers can also come from dental laboratories, dental implant corporations, and dental supply companies.
Forming a dental implant study club can be beneficial in educating local dental colleagues, while helping to establish yourself as an implant educator.
References available upon request.
John Minichetti, DMD, is director of The Center for Implants and Aesthetics, in Englewood, N.J. He is a fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology, the Academy of General Dentistry, and a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology/Implant Dentistry. Dr. Minichetti is on staff at Englewood Hospital. He is the co-chairman of the AAID Study Club Committee and president of the Bergen County Dental Implant Study Group. Dr. Minichetti is the director and instructor of a year-long “mini-residency” for general dentists who are learning implant surgery. He lectures both nationally and internationally. Contact Dr. Minichetti at firstname.lastname@example.org.