July 1, 2010
by George Freedman, DDS, FAACD, FACD
Continuing dental education has taken many and varied forms over the years. The first ongoing dental journal, the Dental Cosmos, was published by Samuel Stockton White (founder of the SSWhite Company) in 1859. This magazine eventually morphed into the Journal of the American Dental Association. Dental conferences, congresses, symposia, and single or multiple-day courses, intended to expand clinical and academic horizons, offer excellent opportunities for updating knowledge and reconnecting with colleagues and friends. Post-graduate academic training is also evolving significantly, increasingly custom tailored to address the needs of the full time practitioner.
Moving well beyond the limits of the published page, Oral Health has pioneered the integration of print, live, and on-line education through its magazines, free e-learning, continuing education, and complimentary Meet the Press events. Oral Health provides a truly 21st century approach to the concept of “multi-media” communication.
The dental community is greatly dependent on the effective transfer of knowledge. The ongoing growth and development of both the profession and the professional requires constant updating in techniques, technologies, and material sciences. In fact, practice success is often predicated upon active participation in acquiring innovative concepts for patient assessment and treatment.
Attending a professional meeting is a re-energizing experience for the entire dental team. However, extended programs and advanced degrees require a much greater commitment; most dentists have little financial capacity to leave their practices, incomes, and families for the months or years needed for an advanced certificate or degree.
The first courses in this cate-gory included the weekend Post-graduate Programs in Esthetic Dentistry that were offered by a dozen universities in the 1990s. More than 2000 dentists across North America (and internationally) received their Certificates upon their successful completion of the comprehensive, but abbreviated, curricula.
Integrating the latest interactive educational technologies with a first class international Faculty, Warwick University (United Kingdom) is in the process of introducing the first eMaster’s Programme in Aesthetic Dentistry. The long-overdue 21st century innovation allows candidates to participate through distance-learning from their own offices or homes; dentists no longer have to be physically present at the university for most of the course. They can also time-shift their participation at their convenience. Lectures, chapter and article readings, tutorials, treatment planning, examinations, and even case presentations are all on-line. Master’s candidates have direct access to the Faculty regardless of where they, or the teaching staff, are located, facilitated by electronic communication.
The Warwick MSc is in all respects a traditional Master’s curriculum and degree; it simply allows active practitioners to complete the course of study from their own locations, at their own pace (typically 2-5 years), without sacrificing years of dislocation from their homes and practices. The Master of Science Programme Director is Professor Edward Lynch (E.Lynch@warwick.ac.uk).
We are very fortunate to have an extremely wide variety of on-going educational opportunities available to us. Academic advancement is readily available to and convenient for the evolving dental practitioner. In the past, the dentist was required to adapt to the educational system; today, education adapts to the dentist. OH
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