Easy tips to continue your education

October 11, 2013

Fall marks a new beginning for the academic world. Fall has exciting academic opportunities for dental labs as well-dental lab techs never stop learning, so the availability of educational opportunities is important to the success of your laboratory.

Fall marks a new beginning for the academic world. Fall has exciting academic opportunities for dental labs as well-dental lab techs never stop learning, so the availability of educational opportunities is important to the success of your laboratory.

Whether learning new techniques, refining current ones or discovering for yourself whether the newest trend, technique or equipment is a good match for you, your business, your current and potential clients, education is the key to your success.

Expos and trade shows provide a great opportunity to be introduced to the newest, most updated equipment and systems available; it takes a lot of information gathering to make certain your investment will do what you need it to do. Educational experiences run the gamut from informal discussions with peers, to discussions with manufacturer reps and formal education settings.

Local study clubs offer a great way to exchange ideas and learn with like-minded lab owners and technicians. State dental lab associations often provide seminars and programs. From a national prospective, the National Association of Dental Labs’ NADL University, held in September each year, allows participants to gain an advanced level of knowledge about the diverse aspects of management, including strategic thinking and planning in a competitive global environment. Many students return to their labs and grow their gross sales and net profit by implementing what they have learned.

Another option is Vision 21, NADL’s other business education meeting held each January. Bennett Napier, NADL’s Executive Director, says Vision 21 is a high level meeting that focuses on the business management side of the dental lab business. It does integrate/reference discussions on material and equipment trends and focuses more on how to pay for these trends, make money using them and work on culture shifts within the workforce to adapt.

Dental lab technicians might also want to investigate the Pankey Institute. Pankey Institute offers all its courses to dental lab technicians with the goal of creating excellence in techniques, enhancing a cooperative working relationship and developing a like-minded peer group in a true side-by-side learning environment. Ricki Braswell, Pankey’s President and Chief Executive Officer, cites the Implant Essentials course to be offered later this year as the perfect example. Presenters include restorative dentists, periodontists, certified dental technicians and a board-certified oral and maxillofacial radiologist to provide a well-rounded and practical understanding of how to provide the best care for the patient. Pankey courses are offered year round and technicians are always given generous discounts.

With the advent of the electronic age, online instruction has become popular and offers the opportunity to learn without leaving the work environment. The Internet also is a great resource for discovering educational opportunities that align with you and your goals. Taking advantage of these opportunities can seem expensive  and time-consuming at first; but the cost of not being educated can be so much more.

Click here to check out a calendar of meetings and events, put together by Carol Pilmer and DLP editor Ryan Hamm. 

Carol J. Pilmer graduated as a dental assistant from Elkhart University, Elkhart Ind., and spent the first 10 years in the clinical environment. She has been co-owner of R Dental Ceramics, Solana Beach, Calif., for 37 years and can be reached at rdental@sbcglobal.net.