Not long ago I went to a dental CE course in Austin, Texas. I found myself sitting beside a young dental assistant. To be cordial I asked her where she worked and with whom. She told me and then asked me where I practiced. “Fort Worth” I told her. When she asked me how long I had practiced I told her 34 years (at the time). It was nice to hear this young lady express her admiration about the endurance of my career so far.
It was not so pleasant to then hear her say, “Well good for you coming all the way down here to learn something new!” “It’s just wonderful that you are keeping up with things!” Noting her sense of surprise for how an old man had found his way to the meeting led me to expect her next statements to be: “Did someone drive you?” “Where’s your walker and if you need to get up to go the bathroom often that would be ok?” “Did you bring your own soft food?”
Hold on a minute young lady! Before you plan my retirement party I would like to remind you that I use many new technologies in my office including impression scanning, CBCT radiography, CAD/CAM same day restorations, model-less restoration fabrication, invisalign orthodontics, electronic records and more. PLUS I invented software that brings dentists to the cutting edge of incorporating clinical assessment and efficiency into the practice. While I can’t hear as well as I used to, I intend to refine my skills and use them a little while longer.
However I understand where she’s coming from. After reaching the 4th decade of practice, it does seem like a challenge to remain current. But this is by no means an insurmountable one. Access to CE courses, the ADA’s evidence-based dentistry archives, journals like the JDE, helpful sites like Dental Town and Dr. Bicuspid, and the many incredible new technologies like the ones I have adopted are plentiful and easy to engage with. In fact, one could argue that now we dentists (even us baby boomers!) have little excuse to not remain on the cutting edge.
So here are the resolutions for 2016 I’ve come up with to continue to practice the art of dentistry at the highest level I can:
- Read JADA, JDE to keep abreast of new developments and research
- Tap into online CE courses such as Dr. Reznick’s online oral surgery and others
- Get to the IADR dental meeting
- Go to a CE course at a dental school
- Read CATs
- Expand Dental Symphony’s Point of Care support documents
- Keep my dental practice website modern looking with SEO
- Add younger specialty referral relationships but maintain the old guard
- Delegate more to assistant staff
- Learn how to use my Merge virtual reality glasses
- Keep playing big band jazz bass