How important is taking time out of practice to invest in training?
Gemma Thompson discusses why building a successful practice requires a short-term investment but a long-term outlook.
Everyone in dentistry knows all too well the importance of training beyond undergraduate level, and that dental professionals must meet the General Dental Council’s Enhanced Continuing Professional Development (ECPD) requirements to stay on the register.
The fact that ECPD is mandatory does not, of course, eliminate the worry some dental professionals feel about the cost of training, both in terms of financial and time aspects. The key here is changing this common and very understandable mindset, to consider the ‘value’ of training rather than ‘cost’ and to reframe the challenges that team members might be facing in pursuing their career dreams.
The value of implant training
Imagine a course costs £700, lasts eight hours and is an hour’s drive from where you live. That’s a full working day out of the practice, family time taken up, petrol, car wear and tear, and, of course, the course outlay itself. But, if you are careful to choose a thoughtfully created course that meets your personal development plan (PDP) needs and is presented by a speaker known for their knowledge of the topic, the value it offers should certainly outweigh the cost.
Alongside the nebulous but priceless concept of building your confidence and reigniting any waning interest in dentistry, the new information that you take back to the practice could be used to improve the practice’s bottom line moving forward.
For example, let’s say that the entire cost of that one-day course equates to £2,000. But now you can, confidently broaden your experience of working with bone grafts and leukocyte-platelet-rich fibrin (L-PRF) or develop immediate load, full arch treatment plans (it must be noted, that this article assumes the candidate undertakes a supportive mentoring programme to be fully competent in their field). How long do you think it will take to recoup that £2,000 when you no longer need to refer patients to have that aspect of the treatment completed elsewhere? And when you consider that the average full-arch treatment plan is priced at anywhere from £10k+, it really does make financial and business sense to invest in your training in the short-term, whilst always having a long-term outlook on the overall benefits.
Meet the team (or not)
Team members are obviously recruited at different times and with different levels of education. Nevertheless, they need to work in harmony in order to be happy and fulfilled at work and offer patients the best possible level of care. To achieve that, team training is essential.
Imagine a scenario where the dentist offers the patient a number of treatment options, they have a meaningful discussion about each and then the patient chooses to take some time to think it over. The dentist knows that in this instance dental implants are the best option for that patient for all sorts of reasons and hopes that is what the patient will opt for.
The patient goes to the reception desk to make another appointment and strikes up a conversation with the receptionist about what has been said. The receptionist listens to it all and says: ‘Implants are really good but they’re so expensive and you’ll have to go elsewhere for the surgical aspect, which is a pain, isn’t it?’ I imagine you’re holding your head in your hands right now after reading that – and I don’t blame you!
Yes, it’s an extreme example to make a point, but variations of this scenario occur in practices more often than we realise. On the other hand, if the whole team’s education is carefully coordinated, using well-respected training providers who understand how all the roles dovetail, you’ll always be singing from the same hymn sheet.
Don’t get stuck in a rut
As a final note, consider the adage: ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got.’ That’s quite a sobering thought. Without taking the time to learn new skills or develop those already in your skillset or your teams, you’ll get nowhere new.
So, to conclude, aside from patient care, arguably there is very little that is more important than judiciously taking time out of the practice for training purposes. Just ensure to consider your PDP and needs and then try to find education that aims to help you develop the areas you have identified.