“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education” ~Mark Twain
There is a saying among some dentists that goes something like this: “My education really began the day that I graduated from dental school.”
The biology hasn’t changed over the years, human nature is just as predictable as ever, and many of the principles that have been taught for years remain the same. So what’s new?
As advances in materials and technologies have occurred, there are so many new options for restoring teeth to natural function. There has never been enough time to teach everything that the fledgling dentist needed to know in order to provide quality service to his or her patients. Dentists of today are exposed to more knowledge than ever, but the schooling period has remained the same, about four years after college.
A dentist today can still get by for an entire career and actually be financially successful using only the skills learned in basic dental schooling. A dental school prepares one to pass a licensing examination, which only proves a minimum level of competency. Today, some states are considering doing away with the licensing examination process and accepting an affirmation from the dean of the dental college that this candidate is worthy of holding a license.
I personally don’t see too much wrong with that idea. I’ve said for years that a dental license is only a license to learn. The mandatory continuing education requirements in the state of California are minimal and only satisfy the needs of the lowest common denominator. To have the dean of a dental school certify that certain requirements for competency have been met, and that a neophyte dentist is capable of being set loose on the public is really not so different from the current system. On balance, the results are going to be the same. Half the new dentists will be above average and half will be below. I do not believe the overall standards of care will be lessened by changes in the licensing rules.
Today, dentistry is viewed more as a commodity than a personal service. This is due to the influx of corporate dentistry and the dental insurance industry. It’s become more and more expensive to provide the service, and the pie can only be cut up into so many pieces. It’s sad, because a crown is not a crown, and a filling is not necessarily a filling. The products are not all that much different, but HOW they are provided can be. It’s the patient experience that is changing. To learn, really learn how to serve other human beings in the best way possible is something that cannot be taught. It must be sought. It’s elusive, and it’s hard for some to grasp. It must be caught, rather than taught. You have to want it. And it’s a sacred trust.
There will always be some caring individuals who will rise to the top. That’s where I want to be. Come and see us!
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” – Muhammad Ali