Why Continuing Education Matters
“When you’re ripe, you rot. When you’re green, you’re growing”
I love that quote. It challenges me to be the eternal student, never stopping in my quest to be the best person, dentist, boss, friend, wife, etc. Continuing Education (or C.E.) fits the bill as one of the best ways to commit to staying “green”. It used to be that you had to travel far to get C.E. credits, but now the latest, and easiest trends are webinars, podcasts, online forums, and courses. These not only save money on travel and boarding expenses, but you can do them at your own convenience. I like to do this sort of C.E. for core basics like ethics courses, dental licensing essentials, sedation renewals, and HIPAA updates (snooze fests, in other words, but essentials). However, I still prefer to travel the distance in person, and have a more intimate learning experience when I am excited about a particular speaker and their topic, want to launch something new in my practice, try a different tactic/system, or need some hands-on training.
I recently got home from spending a weekend in Nashville, TN at one of my favorite continuing education events of the year, the Crown Council Annual Event. During this weekend I was able to learn from like-minded dentists about innovations in our field, and from leaders in other professions about patient/customer care and building a strong business and life. I make it a priority to attend each year with members of my team, the leadership components of my team, and sometimes the entire team! At this C.E. event we got to learn from Diana Nyad, the 1st person to swim from Cuba to FL when she WAS 60 YEARS OLD!! Mac Anderson, the owner/founder of Successories, and Brian Biro, author, spoke about the power of kindness in the workplace and how to infuse your office’s culture with kindness. Also, Jon Acuff, author of many books including, “Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done” (which I’m currently reading) spoke about how difficult it is to finish goals/projects/tasks, and how to insure that you are setting yourself up for success so that a completed job occurs. According to him, the start is the easy and exciting part, and I’d have to agree!
At our training in Nashville, speaker and leader of the Crown Council, Steven Anderson stated, “The key purpose of education is NOT knowledge, but action.”
Like I said, when I travel for continuing education, I like to take several (or all of) my team to participate in the course (see pictures above). When we learn together, it is easier to implement and actually utilize the training, because you all can get fired up and experience the knowledge firsthand, then convert it into action together. Implementation is far easier when you each have firsthand knowledge and buy-in and are excited about it. It becomes tougher to convey the same energy and power when it is brought back by one and disseminated to the whole group. With key team members by my side, we can brainstorm after the speaker is over, and begin to discuss ways to make it work within the practice even before we get back home. At times I’m sure that they would prefer to snuggle in and nap, or read a book or magazine, but I engage them in discussions about how we can make the lessons we learned infused with action, instead of squashed before we return. Partly because they’re still on the clock while traveling (my other business-owner friends will agree with this!), but I feel this is my time to utilize and push the team to get the most out of our trip. This is the hardest part of C.E.—actually getting something new to take root and grow.
"When we learn together, it is easier to implement and actually utilize the training, because you all can get fired up and experience the knowledge firsthand, then convert it into action together."
Another huge benefit of the power of C.E. is the friends, mentors, and colleagues that you make along the way. I have met so many amazing people at each course, and keep in touch and have learned from many of them for years after the event is over and the spiral bound binders have gathered dust. These relationships keep the lessons alive, and offer an opportunity to mastermind and reach out for help and advice in a sometimes very solitary, lonely profession. When I have a buddy from ortho class that I needed to ask how to most easily place the Multi-distalizing Arch appliance on my squirmy teenaged patient, they were able to give me some real-life pearls to make it easier. When I had great success starting a bunch of Invisalign cases in one day, my colleagues reached out to me to find out how I’d done it, so they too could implement a successful Invisalign campaign on their town. And, who doesn’t like looking around a room of dentists in a new city, and discovering a smiling face of a friend in the otherwise anonymous group. There’s so much more fun to be had when you are with someone you know and have been “in the trenches” with before.
So, you tell me, what is the best C.E. event you’ve been to and why? Was it the lessons you learned or the people you learned them with? Have you made lifelong friends with someone sitting near you in class?