R. Buckminster Fuller (inventor) stated in 1980 that human knowledge was increasing by doubling every century. According to researchers, our knowledge has been increasing by a staggering rate of twice per hour as of 2020. It is clear that there will be an increase in information over the next 40 years, as well as a steady rise in the population. This will lead to an increase in the knowledge required for success.
How does this affect dentistry? If the world’s knowledge is increasing, how does that demand on information affect us as dentists?
Learning was difficult for me as a middle school dropout. At the age of 18, I had completed my general education diploma. My test scores revealed a reading level of 4th grade and a math score that was too low to list here. To overcome these learning and reading challenges, I had to work hard to get my college degree with a 3.75 GPA.
As I completed my second year of dental school, learning was still a difficult task. I thought I wouldn’t be able achieve my goal of becoming a dentist with the 27 credits I took and the 19 classes I had to take in a single semester. For an average student to prepare for an exam, it took me 30 hours. It was during my third year of dental school that I realized that for me to survive in an ever-increasing world of continuous information, I must step up my game to increase my knowledge to serve my patients optimally. I began taking continuing education courses in addition to the dental school curriculum course load. After reaching 100 hours by my fourth year, I had become addicted to learning and improving my skills because, as the old saying from Socrates goes, “the more I learn, the less I realize I know.”
Dental colleagues frequently ask me about the number of continuing education hours required to renew a license. Missouri’s renewal requirements for a license are 50 CE credits. This answer can vary from state to state. The ADA’s Dental Licensure DashboardThis map is dedicated to continuing education. It provides high-level information and details about CE.
Our knowledge directly impacts the care we give and our patients. In my limited time as a practitioner, I have encountered many patients who have received suboptimal treatment. It’s not my job judge clinicians and their work. We all make mistakes and there is a reason why we call this the “practice” of dentistry.
As I learn more and ask more questions, I’ve met dental professionals who don’t know of new techniques that could be crucial to providing optimal care for our patients. Our patients spend thousands of dollars each year on dental treatment to improve their smiles. If we don’t grow our knowledge, the public may lose faith in us as their providers.
While the state’s continuing education requirements have been established, we should strive to exceed them when it comes time for license renewal. For patients to be satisfied, we must set high standards. They will trust us more and feel better about their work. Take it from a dropout… learning is hard and time consuming! With three kids, church responsibilities, and an increasing amount of clinical “to-dos” that are never-ending,
it’s difficult to find the time and energy to do more. After spending a year in general practice residency and being immersed in continuing education, I realized how much my work has improved. I also have more tools as a clinician. It’s time to stand up and aim higher so that we can leave this profession a little bit better than it was when we stepped into it.
Dr. Trent FinleyGuest blogger at New Dentist Now. His story of transitioning from middle school dropout to being a college graduate is inspiring. After completing a two-year mission in Honduras, he discovered his passion for dentistry. Dr. FinleyHis life span includes many states including New Mexico and Idaho as well as California, Utah, Utah, Texas, and California. He currently resides at Missouri, where he obtained his undergraduate and dental degrees as well as a one-year GPR from Truman Medical Center. Dr. Finley‘s love for education caused him to further distinguish himself by earning a certificate in Spanish for Healthcare Professionals and passing his fellowship exam for the Academy of General Dentistry. He is married to his wife of 9 years, and they have 3 amazing children. He loves to spend his time working out, with his family, and on his videography and photography projects.
Editor’s note:The Association encourages lifelong learning in order to increase and update the knowledge of dentists, stimulate professional growth, and improve professional skills. Dentists are responsible for continuing their education throughout their professional careers. The Association will be a resource for members to help them identify the best sources and mechanisms to meet this responsibility. Visit this page for information about continuing education opportunities in ADA. ADA.org/education/continuing-education. The following information is available about CE courses offered through ADA CERP-recognized providers: Commission for Continuing Education Provider Recognition website.