The following page is specific to clinical continuing education (CE) and has been kept in Q and A format for ease of reading.
What are the 2 golden rules of CE?
- Narrow your focus! It is better to be special to a few people instead of average to a whole lot.
- CE is an investment, not an expense.
Questions to consider before taking a course?
- Does taking the course enable you to fulfill your professional goals 5 and 10 years down the line? Are you passionate about this topic?
- Is this a trend? Are you taking it only because the ‘cool kids’ are?
- Does this course make financial sense to you? Remember to factor in team training, team lunches, vendor meetings, inventory and marketing under finances.
- Are you attending the course only because it is free? Be intentional. Could you be doing something better with your time?
- What is the ROI (return on investment)? You will see significant ROI on clinical CE only 6 months to a year after. It is okay to contact people who have taken the course before and ask them for their views.
- If you meet criteria 1-5 and are still doubtful; ask your mentors for their opinion.
How should you budget for CE?
- You’ve spent almost a decade in school. You have loans to pay off and a life to make. Yes, you need a budget, not just for CE but for everything you want and need in your life going forward.
- A new dentist’s budget for CE can be up to 5% annual net pay. This is the higher end of the spectrum; most would want to spend much lower and that is okay! Know that this is dependent on your goals.
Saving 30-35% of your net pay will help you afford all the CE you want, save for a rainy day, but most importantly help you put your ‘money to work’. I would recommend reading Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing and Rich Dad Poor Dad to understand the power of compound interest and the need to invest early.
What kinds of CE are out there?
- Lectures (meetings, conferences)
- Participation (study clubs, hands-on exercises, clinical patient work, volunteering, faculty positions)
- Self-instruction (online, magazine CE)
Can you explain a little more?
- Different states have a different permissible % for self-instruction CE. WA state for example, allows 7 hours of CE via self-instruction in its 21 hour annual requirement. Rule of thumb: majority of your CE should be through lecture or participation.
- Volunteering activities, post-graduation courses and even a faculty position can provide CE, check with your program admins. There will be a permissible % for the number of hours these can account for per year.
- Do you work at a corporate? I received 50 quality hours of CE at a weekend corporate retreat in SoCal my first year out of school. Look for CE opportunities within your corporate network.
- Lots of private practice owner dentists will pay for CE throughout the year. Ask your owner dentist about options before signing an employment contract.
Organized dentistry: what are the benefits?
- American Dental Association tripartite membership: (national, state and county membership rolled into one) gives you access to your County Dental Society meetings, which I personally have found the most value out of. County Dental Society meetings are great for a couple reasons; network building, opportunity to get involved, getting exposure within the community, and lots of CE!
- Academy of General Dentistry (AGD): Washington AGD is perhaps one of the finest institutions in the US. They have excellent CE opportunities (discounted for AGD members) throughout the year, and offer Master Track, which for $5000/- annually gives you quality CE and builds credits towards a Fellowship or Master Award. All meeting dates are pre-fixed and held over a weekend (so you can plan in advance). Look for an opportunity like this within your state AGD.
Seattle King County Dental Society and Washington AGD are extremely active and resourceful organizations. I’ve met mentors and life-long friends through both. I would recommend talking to colleagues for recommendations closer to home.
Should you join Study Clubs?
Education via Study Clubs is what makes continued education fun! I love the Study Clubs I am a part of and am always looking forward to meeting my friends and learning with them at our meetings.
Based on your unique location, you will be privy to some prestigious Clubs. Most will offer a first meeting for free so as for you test the waters. I’d recommend doing that for a majority of the Clubs in your area before paying for an annual membership. A lot of Clubs also offer new dentist discounts!
Good sources for online CE?
- Dental Nachos: This website https://dentalnachos.com/on-demand-courses/ is run by Dr. Paul Goodman and his team. Some of his webinars are free. You can sign up for an annual membership giving you access to quality CE throughout the year. Follow Paul at https://www.instagram.com/dentalnachos/ to get updates on latest CE offerings.
- DC Dental Clinical: Excellent source of free CE hosted throughout the year. Find them at https://www.dcdentalclinical.com/courses/
- Course Karma: Dr. Aly Bhatia, a fellow dentist, started a website out of a need for dentists to be able to compare different CE courses. It is a great service. Access it here: https://www.coursekarma.com While you’re at it, help us all and leave a review for courses you’ve attended in the past.
How do you track your CE?
- Save all CE certificates under year say ‘2019’ on Google Drive. Find out how many years after taking CE you need to save certificates, it will be on your state’s DOH website. An accountant I know recommends the following: ‘act like you will be audited at least once or twice in your life, so that when it happens you are not surprised.’
- Have all CE directed to your AGD account. This will tell you how far away you are from qualifying for a Fellowship and also calculate your state requirements for the year.
Act like you will be audited at least once or twice in your life, so that when it happens you are not surprised.
Did you attend a great CE course in the past 1-2 years? I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to reach out @dr.deshpande