Learning From Others

by Dr. James Yacyshyn

April is an interesting time of year for me. I always find it to be a reflective time, as the university academic year comes to an end. I think about the senior dental students that I have been able to work with, who will be starting on their professional careers. I think about what they will encounter as they start out in a profession that is constantly changing. I wonder if I have best prepared them, given the limited amount of time I get to spend with them. The biggest lesson I try to reinforce with the undergraduate dental students, in the area of practice management, is how much more there is to learn, and to maintain a sense of inquiry and interest as they develop their professional skills. With the vast majority of these students heading into associateships, I hope they are able to develop those skills while working with talented dentists that will help bring “the magic” of private practice to life for them.

The quote “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn” is attributed to Benjamin Franklin. I find the message to be a powerful one that invokes the benefits of working and learning with others. For new associates, this is a great way to start a career. Having principle dentists that involve associates in practice management conversations, not only help them develop their understanding for what is happening operationally around them, but it also strengthens the team with regards to appreciating why certain things are done the way they are. Principle dentists as both leader, teacher, and mentor can help career development tremendously. I’ve heard this many times during discussions with CE participants at the University of Alberta.

As Director of Continuing Dental Education, I also get to watch teams training together. Watching a group of dentists get excited about a new skill and navigate bringing it back to their clinics, is of particular interest to me. The comments and feedback we get after a course always amazes me; when an office has been able to transform their practice after attending a program. Sometimes these will be the clinically applied courses, such as training in IV sedation dentistry, or, sometimes it’s something a little less direct – but fun.

This term, in Continuing Education, we had fun learning about individual and team development from the likes of NHL player Jason Strudwick, and sports psychologist Klaudia Sapieja, the lead for the mental training program for all varsity athletes, teams and coaches at the U of A. We also had an amazing experience this February, learning from the folks from the Disney Institute. The U of A has partnered with the professional development and external training arm of The Walt Disney Company. The Disney Institute showcases ‘the business behind the magic’ through programs focused on professionals from many different industries, including healthcare. The U of A session focused on “Delivering Quality Service”.

These are the types of learning opportunities from others that help broaden our perspectives, and enrich our development. Things as simple as making a point of discussing one of the articles in this edition of Oral Health with a colleague, can help facilitate conversations where we learn from others.

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