The Value of a Study Club

A mistake we often make as dentists is not understanding early enough the possibility of burnout in our profession. Dentists are expected to be upbeat all the time, make good leadership and business decisions, and manage 5-6 employees, with skills none of us were taught in dental school.

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Dentistry is more than just clinical care. It is also about gaining case acceptance, dealing with public perception, showing leadership within the community and addressing clinical complications with confidence. Moreover, most of us practice alone, and don’t meet another dentist for weeks or months. The absence of camaraderie and frequent mentorship, can lead to stress and anxiety.

I didn’t realize I needed to be part of a Study Club, until I made the lucky decision to join one. A day or two after a Club meeting I felt a huge weight lift off of my shoulders. Why? It was like finally getting to be with friends who understand you and can advise you. The wealth of learning that is possible when we speak with our colleagues directly is invaluable.

A day or two after a Club meeting I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. Why? It was like finally getting to be with friends who understand you and can advise you.

What is a Study Club?

Study Clubs are small group meetings held at pre-determined times throughout the year, where you get a chance to meet the same set of dental colleagues, and learn together about advancements in your profession.

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Study Clubs became a big part of my life in early 2019, and because I host a Business Study Club in the city, I am often asked why and how to join a Club. In Seattle, us dentists are spoilt for choice. Home to Drs. Dick Tucker Jr., Frank Spear, Michael Cohen and John Kois, we have the best pick of Study Clubs and continuum courses here in the US. That said, the following post is an overview on what a Study Club meeting is like, and how to consider joining one.

Format of a Study Club

Study Clubs provide the gift of continuing education (CE), ability to learn together in a classroom-like setting and an opportunity to enjoy dinner and wine with friends.  There are a few aspects, however, that set certain Club meetings apart.

  1. The best Study Clubs have few members, allowing for better interaction.
  2. Future topics are decided based on everyone’s feedback.
  3. Meetings start off with an interactive session where everyone discusses how their week has been and common problems faced.
  4. There is usually a presentation or a recorded video to watch and discuss. The topic of the day is known to everyone in advance. Sometimes, members may have pre-meeting material to go over.

Traditionally, Study Clubs have been hosted and run by specialists. This is in a means to secure referrals from general dentists in the area. Most such meetings reinforce inter disciplinary treatment modalities and are a great way to build your network.

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Some Study Clubs offer operative or clinical mentorship. Such Clubs allow you to bring a patient and an assistant to a learning center, typically a dental school within the city, where a mentor looks over your shoulder as you work on a case. This can be an eye-opening experience!

Choosing a Study Club

  1. Most Clubs offer you the opportunity to attend a free first meeting. Make use of these opportunities! Talking to trusted colleagues in your city and asking them for advice, is also a good place to start.
  2. Start with a treatment planning seminar or a similar foundational course. This is almost always the recommended way to begin approaching different clinical curriculums. Some dentists try out several different Clubs or seminars. Others, remain with only one their whole careers. This bit is totally upto you.
  3. Ask yourself, where you are lacking and what skills you need to build on. Be honest about your own abilities. There are clinical Clubs and business Clubs. Find out what you need in order to succeed. Then, decide on a Club that fulfills those expectations.
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Are you looking for advise on picking a Study Club? Reach out to me @dr.deshpande directly, I may be able to help you with recommendations. For info on other forms of CE, visit this page.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Spear Study Club and the founder and host of the New Dentist Business Study Club, both of which are held in Seattle.

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