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CE Hours: Do We Really Need Them?

  • by Larry Stanleigh, BSc, MSc, DDS, FADI, FICD, FACD, FPFA
  • Mar 12, 2018, 09:00 AM

In a recent Facebook group discussion in Alberta, a colleague posted the question of whether the Provincial Dental Association would consider reducing the number of continuing education (CE) hours required for licensure. I found the question surprising, but I did not respond until I had more time to ponder the question, where it was coming from and potential solutions. This blog is the response.

In Alberta, we have to complete 60 hours of CE every two years to maintain our licensure. That’s 30 hours per year (five more than the maintenance credit required by AGD).

My first thought was, in this ever-changing, rapidly evolving world, can we remain competent on less than 30 hours per year?

There are 365 days in a year, 104 of them are weekends, not including statutory holidays. Thirty hours of CE represents approximately four days in that year. If that is a burden, there is a deeper problem that is not being addressed. If you have a profitable practice, then taking time for holidays, CE, or anything else, is not an issue if you are strategic with your time off.

So why is this colleague finding CE a burden? I remember earlier in my career, I had a busy practice, but it was not growing, and the payments for debt, team salaries and more were making it difficult just to break even. But a colleague, Tony Knight, just three blocks from my office, was seeing three times the number of new patients per month that I was. How was he doing it?

Six years earlier, Tony had sold everything. He sold his practice, his home and his cars; bought a sailboat; and took his family on an epic five-year around-the-world journey. Now he was back in Calgary and had reopened a practice from scratch on the fifth floor of a nondescript building with no signs. How was he growing so quickly? A friend suggested I call him and ask. Not only was Tony willing to share, he was downright enthusiastic. I went over to his office, and he shared his new patient experience, protocols and more with me. What I was doing was not significantly different, but there were a couple of things I tweaked in terms of my business systems and with my team, and things started to grow again.

What I have learned over and over again from multiple sources is to not reinvent the wheel. Copy brilliance. Do you have a problem? Find someone who has solved it, and ask how they did it. I continue to be amazed at how willing successful people are to share their secrets. Mostly because there is no great secret. Successful dentists don’t have an issue with obtaining enough CE to maintain their licensure. To respond to my dental colleagues who are having trouble completing your required CE hours, I suggest you ask a colleague about his or her experiences. You may find that you only need to slightly adjust your schedule – or the ways you take CE – to allow yourself the time to obtain your yearly hours.

Many of our colleagues are in remote locales, and travelling can be onerous, but there are many solutions. In Alberta, the Aurum Group of labs provides great CE throughout the province regularly. Full-service dental supply companies, like Patterson Canada, Henry Schein and Sinclair, also provide CE regularly. There are good local study clubs in just about any subject area — you just have to ask around, and colleagues will steer you towards them, especially the specialists often involved in these study clubs. And there is AGD. With CE provided by reading General Dentistry, watching webinars and more, you can obtain substantial hours of quality, relevant CE from home.

And finally, there is AGD’s Scientific Session taking place in New Orleans this year. Who doesn’t want to travel to New Orleans? It is a very cost-effective way to obtain all the CE you require for your licensure and AGD membership maintenance.

So the answer to my colleague’s initial question of reducing stress by reducing the number of hours of CE required is better answered by finding out why he is stressed by having to take CE and find ways to resolve the deeper issues.

What barriers do you face in obtaining adequate CE hours?

Thank you. 

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