Whether you are maintaining credentials and certifications, learning new techniques or discovering the latest in dental technology, continuing education is key to keeping your dental practice team current and your practice thriving. Because it’s something that many dental offices overlook and undervalue (the majority of practices spend under $3,000 annually on it), continuing education can be a real differentiator for your practice.
The following resources for continuing education will help to ensure your staff—from dentists to hygienists to your front desk employees—is current on the latest skills and trends.
Continuing education options
There’s a wide range of continuing education options out there for every member of your dental team.
Nationwide, state and local associations are the first places to look for continuing education opportunities. In addition to hosting live events such as conferences, seminars and annual meetings, most professional associations also offer online continuing education via webinars, on-demand courses or self-study courses.
Even though it may be more expensive than an online course, consider sending each team member to a live professional development event, such as a conference, seminar or annual meeting, at least once a year. In addition to learning new things, they’ll have the benefit of hearing industry-leading speakers present innovative ideas and products. They’ll also get the chance to rub shoulders with their peers and make connections that can be valuable for their professional development. For professionals who spend their days in an office, attending a live event generally sparks more excitement and enthusiasm than taking a course on the computer.
Industry trade shows are a great place to see the latest dental technology and get demos of new products that might help your practice. To get the most from a trade show, find out what vendors will attend, and take the relevant members of your team. For instance, if you’re looking for new office management software, be sure to bring your office manager along.
While they may not offer accredited continuing education, many vendors of dental products and services offer other training outside of continuing education that helps you and your team stay up to date. Have the providers of the software, equipment and systems you use come in and train your team. Don’t do it only when you’re onboarding your team to new tools; also schedule an annual visit from each provider to go over any new features and make sure your team is getting the most from the technology.
For example, patient communication software is constantly changing. In the past few years, Lighthouse 360 has added new features such as Fill-in to fill last-minute cancellations and Patient FastTrack to simplify new patient registration. Lighthouse 360 offers customers free annual reviews and encourages them to take advantage of this opportunity to review their settings and get an update about the newest features. If you don’t get an annual review from all of your vendors, you might miss out on useful new features.
Of course, you can also contact vendors whose products you’re interested in, but don’t use, to get a free demo. Checking out what’s available from time to time helps to ensure that you have the tools you need to succeed.
Continuing education for dentists, hygienists and assistants
Keep your dentists, hygienists and dental assistants current with continuing education offerings from these sources:
- The American Dental Association (ADA) offers live and online continuing education as well as a comprehensive calendar of dental industry events. Check out its listing of state and local dental associations to find local associations near you.
- The American Association of Endodontists has a comprehensive, on-demand online learning platform as well as an annual meeting and other events.
- The Dental Academy of Continuing Education offers more than 140 online courses.
- The Dental Trade Alliance hosts several webinars throughout the year on the latest dental industry topics, featuring a wide range of speakers and dental industry experts who provide cutting-edge information. It also hosts an annual meeting and other conferences.
- The International Association for Dental Research has annual meetings that are recorded and can be viewed on-demand to receive continuing education credits.
- The Academy of General Dentistry offers continuing education courses including self-instruction and on-demand webinars.
- The American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) offers an online learning center for continuing education.
- The American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) holds an annual conference and offers webinars, on-demand continuing education courses and self-study continuing education for both members and non-members.
Continuing education for office managers and front desk employees
Don’t forget about your front desk staff when considering continuing education. Investing in continuing education such as certifications and trainings for office managers and front desk staff shows them you value their contribution and care about their professional development. It also helps ensure that they are up to date on the latest technology, innovations and skills in the field.
- The American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM) provides continuing education as well as online message boards and communities where dental office managers can share knowledge.
- The International Association of Administrative Professionals offers a Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) Certification that covers topics such as organizational communications, office and records management, and technology and information distribution.
- You can also find health care administration certification programs in each state.