by Rima bedevian

Continuing education comes in many forms—how you learn is up to you

Orthodontics is a speedily growing profession, so it is good business for orthodontists to keep up with current dental trends and treatments to provide the best care for their patients. This is where continuing education (CE) comes in.

Advances in technology have made many different delivery methods available. Traditional lectures delivered in classrooms or laboratories are now supplemented by computer-based and online CE. All of these methods deliver the same information, and choosing a particular type of CE is a matter of personal taste and scheduling.

Learning in Person

Classrooms and laboratories are the most traditional avenues of obtaining CE credits. Many organizations, including the AAO and ADA, hold annual meetings with didactic programs where the latest innovations and procedures in the orthodontic profession are discussed. In addition, the workshops help practitioners recharge themselves and their office staff to set the direction for a synergistic and successful team.

“I prefer CE programs in a meeting-room setting because there is a definite time and place for the presentation,” says Eugene S. Simon, DDS, MS, Sylvania, OH. “There is also the possibility of personal interaction with the presenter. These programs vary from 1 to 2 hours to 1 to 2 days.”

According to Samer Zawaideh, BDS, DMSc, attending CE meetings not only keeps practitioners up-to-date on the latest trends in the profession, it also gives them the opportunity to network. In the academic field, networking helps create opportunities for collaborative research and establishes contacts in other academic institutions, which could lead to better collaboration, exchange of knowledge, and advances in the orthodontic profession. In the clinical field, networking helps practitioners exchange clinical experiences and, in some cases, some clinical pearls, which benefit patients.

“Such meetings as the annual AAO meeting are an excellent chance to reconnect with old colleagues and classmates who travel from all over the United States—and even from overseas—to attend these meetings,” says Zawaideh. “The alumni receptions at these meetings also provide an excellent avenue for meeting old classmates.”

Learning Online

For some orthodontists who live in remote areas, the inconvenience of traveling to attend CE meetings and the cost of paying for airline tickets make in-person learning less attractive. For these orthodontists, computer-based CE is more practical. Online training brings the latest information right to the orthodontists’ desktop and allows practitioners to study at their own pace, anywhere, at any time. Online CE topics include everything from general dentistry to oral implantology.

Web technology has also made it more feasible for orthodontists to deliver educational presentations to their peers half a world away. With Webcast presentations, orthodontists can give their lectures from the comfort of their office. All they really need is a PC, a stable high-speed Internet connection, headphones to hear the audience members during the question-and-answer session, a microphone, and a Web camera to enable peers to see and hear them as well.

S. Jay Bowman, DMD, MSD, who has been giving Webcast orthodontic lectures over the past several years from his office in Michigan, says this learning tool works. “When I give a lecture in a darkened room, no one really cares much what I look like—my slides are the show.”

Learning as a Vacation

Multitasking orthodontists are also taking advantage of CE opportunities that include an aspect of relaxation, such as a cruise offered by one company during which practitioners travel to an exotic locale while they learn about the current trends in the profession from orthodontic veterans, thereby coming home with a suntan and 12 California CE credits. The AAO has also made a point of offering meetings in San Francisco; Orlando, Fla; and Honolulu.

Orthodontists today are busier than ever. Fortunately, they now have a wide range of options of how to obtain CE credits—whether in the comfort of their home or office, or somewhere on the high seas.

Rima Bedevian is associate editor of Orthodontic Products.