Over the years as I have engaged in CE I have taken many different types of courses from large group lectures to being a member of an ongoing study club. These experiences each serve a unique purpose as we layer our learning and continue to develop professionally and personally. Learning the foundational concepts in a new area like esthetic dentistry, materials or occlusion can be accomplished successfully sitting in an auditorium and listening to a presentation. In this type of environment I get to assess where I am at relative to understanding the information presented. Identify the areas I need to spend more time learning and gauge how this information has been incorporated into my current patient treatment. On the other end of the spectrum is becoming a member of an ongoing small group study club. One of the greatest benefits of this type of learning is the relationships that form and the ability to feel safe to share what I am doing in my practice, my successes and my challenges and ask any question I need to that will deepen my understanding.
In between are numerous opportunities for hands on education. Dentistry is a profession about execution, not just understanding, and the two have to go hand in hand for professional growth. Hands on learning ranges from 2.5 hour programs at a state of national meeting that allow us the opportunity to try out a technique and use the materials being discussed, to longer multi-day programs that combine hands on technique driven education with the delivery of in-depth content. One of the challenges I have experienced as a student over the years is taking what I have learned, both information and hands on education and successfully implementing it back in my practice. The busyness of the day and the power of existing systems and processes get int he way of my resolve to implement my learning. Having the ability to discuss what these issues will be, and create strategies about how to handle them and develop action plans has been a key piece of implementation for me. In addition having close relationships with the people teaching as well as other participants, and knowing that I can go back and ask questions and share my successes and struggles keeps me moving forward.