Why Would I Really Need to Continue My Education? I Have a Job.
There are minimally three things necessary to become an excellent dental technician – artistic ability, a good work ethic and education. But to maintain excellence - and even relevance - in today’s dental technology, it is essential to continue with one’s education.
Expanding your knowledge base with timely and pertinent information is crucial to staying current with new technologies and their requisite skills. It has always been this way with dental technology, but historically, the evolution happened at a snail’s pace. Today, in the digital age, keeping up is more important than ever, due to the lightning speed with which the industry is changing.
In addition to learning new techniques, continuing with your dental education is also necessary because there is a certification (Certified Dental Technician) which requires verifiable CE. Though bench-trained technicians can legally perform laboratory processes without the certification, they must still keep up with these new technologies if they work in a progressive laboratory. Technicians proficient with older analog techniques, including crown and bridge or RPD framework design, have to spend time re-educating themselves to learn how to properly create the same designs using CAD software if using a scanner. They need to learn how to transfer the design tenets they understand to the software they do not. Of course, not every dental laboratory is making the essential changes to thrive in the digital age, but if they are - and you are a technician producing work for them – you’ll need to keep learning to stay useful (and employed!)
Where Would I Find this Continuing Education?
Everywhere! There are almost limitless sources for CE in the dental world. Attend at least one dental meeting each year.
Local, regional and national industry meetings usually provide lots of courses for all levels of experience. They also provide the CE credits you need if you are a CDT. Lots of experts share their knowledge and experience in almost every discipline in dental technology.
Of course, not every technician is able to attend meetings. Not to worry! Meetings have almost become irrelevant – at least for CE - due to myriad educational opportunities available on your computer.
- Webinars offer you in-depth information in a relatively short time (1 hour). They are generally presentations by an expert using slides and they usually allow questions to be answered at the end. The beauty is that they might have audiences of hundreds, but you can anonymously ask anything that you need to know personally. Learn from university professors, dental researchers, manufacturers, independent technicians and many others.
- White papers usually provide the real meat of a given subject. They often go deep into the more technical aspects of a particular subject, and are often (but not always) the written result of a university study. They are informational and comprehensive.
- Blogs are the “People Magazine” of printed educational offerings. The electronic books cover all subjects, are usually short, easy to read, and offer a way to explore more about the subject by using links to more articles about the same subject. You must know this, because you’re reading one right now!
- eBooks are designed to go into more depth on a subject than blogs do. They are often chaptered, just like a printed book, so if you are looking for a specific part of a subject, this is a great vehicle for you to do so.
- Social Media brings to you all types of information. While not necessarily the easiest to search, nor the most fact-based of the sources, social media does provide a path to lots of potentially useful info to help you on your CE journey.
All of the above digital information sources use text and images to make reading enjoyable and can be read on computers and hand-held devices, such as tablets and smartphones. So, no matter where you are, the information you’re continuing education is really at your fingertips.
Naturally, there can sometimes be costs (time and money) associated with continuing your education, but the benefits almost always outweigh the costs. By continually learning, you can expect to increase your qualifications, increase your income, live a better lifestyle, improve your confidence, and secure your future in the lab. Who wouldn’t want that?