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Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Dental Lab Products. He is also the author of 18 technology books, including the award-winning Green IT: Reduce Your Information System's Environmental Impact While Adding to the Bottom Line. As such, he’s particularly interested in the technological side of dentistry.
Getting CE credit doesn't have to be a headache with these great, unexpected sources of CE. Once a dentist graduates dental school, he or she might expect to throw the mortarboard into the air, slaps a shingle on an office door and never have to crack open another book. Well, not exactly.
Once a dentist graduates dental school, he or she might expect to throw the mortarboard into the air, slaps a shingle on an office door and never have to crack open another book. Well, not exactly.
Depending on which state in which they are licensed and practice, doctors need a certain number of continuing education (CE) hours. The hours are usually to be completed within a one, two or three year period and can range from 15 to 72 hours. (North Dakota is a little different, however – they require 100 hours every five years).
Topics include requirements (from CPR to infection control) and electives (like implants or composites). It really depends on the state and its requirements. (The description for each state’s requirements can be found at: www.mydentalce.com/collections/dental-ce-requirement-by-state).
And it isn’t just dentists that have to keep up on their CE hours – dental assistants and hygienists have to stay current as well. But beyond going to a boring classroom and sitting through a couple weekend-long seminars, dental professionals can find their CE credit in some unconventional – possibly even fun and free – sources.
We talked to members of the Dental Products Report editorial board about some great, unexpected sources of CE.
Continue to the next page to see the opportunities.
Dr. Erinne Kennedy, DMD, Dental Public Health Resident at Harvard School of Dental Medicine, found that she could get a few hours of CE from insurance companies when a friend told her about free opportunities from Aetna insurance.
“They had two great courses,” Dr. Kennedy remembers. “One was this fantastic course about geriatric patients and the other was about eating disorders. They were two CE credits and all you had to do was read these documents and take a quiz – I learned a lot, actually.”
Reaching out to insurance companies might reveal more opportunities, depending on who you are affiliated with.
“One way to get extra CE is to contact your insurance companies and say, ‘Hey, are you giving out any extra CE to your dental providers?’” she says. “You might be surprised. Not only could help you, but your hygienists and dental assistants could get credit, as well.”
You lab could also be a source of CE.
“When I was in residency one of the things I wanted to do was learn about digital placement of implants,” Dr. Kennedy says. “I called every single one of the labs that were used in my residency and said, ‘Hi, we’re a group of new dentists and we’d love to learn more. What do you have to offer?’ If you’re a new dentist or a resident, they have so much to offer. A lot of times they’ll bring you into classes or courses that are being offered. They’ll even connect you with dental reps that are hosting CE courses at the lab. I think we got to go to six or seven free CE events during residency, just because I contacted the lab.”
For Dr. Kennedy, getting that credit was a very straightforward process.
“And here in Boston, we’re given free CE because our lab offers eight CE courses per year that you can take for two to three hours of credit each time that it’s delivered,” she says. “It’s all free and they come to you, actually. You just have to reach out and ask.”
New doctor events
Dr. Kennedy also notes that new dentists can reach out to the state’s ADA New Dentist Committee and ask about upcoming CE.
“There are a lot of new dentist events in different areas, and if you’re a member of the ADA, a lot of times you can get free CE Credit if you’re going to a new dentist event,” Dr. Kennedy says. “We reached out to our local representative and were able to go to some events while I was in Baltimore. It’s just because we were asking or saying, ‘Hey, keep us informed about any events for CE courses that you offer.’”
And if you are a new dentist, timing can matter when you sign up for other CE events.
“A lot of times [organizers] offer a reduced price for a lot of CE events,” Dr. Kennedy says. “So be sure to say, ‘Hey, I’m a new dentist,’ or ‘Hey, I’m in residency,’ and a lot of times you can sign up for stuff while you’re still in residency. The course might be six months out, but if you sign up while you are still in residency status, you might be able to get a discounted rate for CE.”
Manufacturers are on the cutting edge of dental products and technology, and there is no better source to learn about those technologies than from the manufacturers, themselves.
“Ivoclar Vivadent hosts about eight open houses a year, some of them are up for direct composite restorations, some are for CAD/CAM-built restorations,” Dr. David Rice, DDS, a general dentist in Amherst, NY and founder of IgniteDDS.com, says.
Doctors might be pleasantly surprised to learn that the manufacturers pull out all the stops to provide this education.
“They, literally, open their doors to a small group of people, usually like 16 to 20 at a time, and they pay for everything other than somebody coming on a flight – they put people up at a hotel, they feed you breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Dr. Rice says. “It’s incredible continuing education. It’s all hands-on. You just have to be interested to learn more and want to show up. You just have to get yourself there and they gift you two days of continuing education.”
Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble offers more than 150 free dental continuing education courses. The education library is provided by Procter & Gamble’s Crest+Oral-B.
According to its website, the program’s key principles are:
· Courses cover a wide range of topics relevant to the oral healthcare professional community.
· Material is developed by experts and undergoes a peer-review process.
· Content is supported by science and research.
· Courses are offered gratis.
· Content is available online to maximize accessibility.
For more information, visit their website here.
Not surprisingly, the Internet is a great place to find easy, inexpensive CE. Performing a simple Google search can bring up viable options.
“Do a Google search and there are dozens of sites,” Dr. Jason Watts, DMD, a general dentist in Cape Coral, Florida, says. “I literally watched dozens of hours of CE.”
“There’re some great places if you want either inexpensive or just high-value continuing education without having to invest in leaving your home,” Dr. Rice adds. “You can take CE from your couch.”
Two that he mentions, specifically, are Dentaltown.com and IgniteDDS.com (or IgniteDA.com for dental assistants and hygienists).
“Dentaltown does a nice job with their continuing education,” Dr. Rice says. “We do at Ignite for both dentists and dental assistants. What I like about them is they’re for the whole team. The online programs, really, are open platforms.
“We offer continuing education, on our site, and it’s virtually free,” he continues. “We cover the cost of hosting the event; we bring in all sorts of experts. Every month we bring in an expert in dentistry, and we host a live webinar, and then we store it so you can watch it on-demand.”
Looking to the future, Dr. Rice says that Ignite is going to offer a new 52-week program in the spring of 2018.
Having to get required CE hours can sometimes feel like a chore – something that has to be done even after a long workweek. But what if you could combine CE with a vacation?
Companies like University at Sea or Cruise and Travel Partners make that possible.
Trips can include something like a two-day visit to Iceland, a Caribbean cruise or a 10-day African safari, infused with CE.
While going on the CE cruise costs about the same as a regular cruise, Dr. Watts mentions one such trip that was broadcast on the internet and was free for web-viewers.
“They hosted a live American Idol-like session,” Dr. Watts says. “You watched these different speakers and then voted on the winner. As long as you watched it live, it was free, but later you could pay to watch the recording.”
Dental service organizations (DSOs) can take a lot of the headache out of being a dentist, especially where administrative tasks are concerned. As such, DSOs will often make CE available to their member dentists.
It’s not just a perk for the dentists, either. It’s in the DSO’s best interests to do so. DSOs want their dentists to be well informed and well educated. DSOs will often offer both internal and external CE opportunities for the dental team members – all paid for by DSO.
“I was able to get a lot of CE hours through my DSO,” Dr. Watts says.
Online education can be all over the map, pricewise. As we mentioned, it can be found for free, but it is also available as a premium service. For instance, SPEAR Education offers learning opportunities for both the practitioner and the team (as well as patient education to help communicate treatment options). Spanning more than 1,300 CE-eligible lessons, Dr. Rice says the service is worth the money.
“You’re going to spend a few thousand dollars for access for one year, however, their content is really supreme,” Dr. Rice says. “And, again, the savings you have is not having to hop in your car, hop on a plane, leave your practice. They have education both in the clinical world and in the practice management world. It’s a little bit more of an investment, but I feel like it’s worth it.”
Dental organizations can be good sources for CE credit. The groups know what dentists and team members need to stay on top of their profession, and they are also well versed on current industry trends.
For example, the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) offers six free online CE courses for all members.
Also, the American Dental Association (ADA) offers CE in a variety of different categories spanning clinical dentistry, practice management, implantology and restorative dentistry.
CE may sometimes seem like a chore, but it doesn’t have to be boring, inconvenient or expensive. Desirable course options are out there, it’s just a matter of finding the one that best suits you.