Here are some tips and tactics to help you – dentistry students – expand your toolbox, build on your knowledge and grow your professional network.
If you are a student of dentistry, you must already know a lot about what your eventual role entails and how oral hygiene works. This is part of your training, and clearly a foundation for your future career.
However, depending on the school, some aspects of dentistry as a profession may not be covered in great enough detail, such as:
- latest breakthroughs in materials, techniques, and protocols
- patient care and communication tips
- customer service, customer acquisition and growing your business as a healthcare professional
- networking; building and benefiting from a professional community
- opportunities for international experience in the field
In this article, we’ll show you some of the ways you can upgrade your learning network and boost your efficiency in areas beyond fundamental dentistry. These are the tools and tips that professionals use, and acquiring them early can give you a powerful head start.
Curaden cares about students
Here at Curaden, we know that highly educated dental students means a future of great coaching, lifelong tooth preservation and improved overall health for all patients. It’s part of our mission to support the next generations of dental professionals with year-round international events for students across the globe.
Putting social media to good use
On Facebook, be sure to like and follow your favourite healthcare brands and professional communities. Configure your newsfeed so that a steady supply of industry news flows into your inbox:
- Announcements promoting conferences, talks, workshops and other events in your area
- Internships and scholarships that might be offered not only through your favourite companies, but also through their partners
- Healthcare-related content (this one should be obvious)
Many consumer brands also have social feeds geared to professionals that can prove to be very useful for staying updated with what’s going on in the field.
Pro tip: collect deliverables and visual aids
Social media is filled with clear, powerful, and sometimes beautiful illustrations and images showing what goes on in patients’ mouths. Save those images for your personal needs. You’ll find uses for these materials later in your practice, so look at this collection as an investment in your own long-term success.
As healthcare professionals ourselves, we’ve put together a list of internet resources that we feel are especially useful and informative for up-and-coming dentists:
- This is us: @curadenglobal
- This is us, too! (More useful content about health for you and your future patients and also the possibility to have an access to oral care package in a very convenient way): @ueli.club
- With the help of visual aids, Dr. Steven Lin brings an exciting and fresh perspective to the connection between nutrition and oral care: @drstevenlin
- An example of a dental clinic with beautiful visual style (this one is based in Ukraine): @silk_dentistry
- And a little fun — the sort understood best (or perhaps only!) by dental professionals @dentalhygienejokes
Attend conferences and seminars, but choose with care
For scientists, conferences can be a welcome platform for sharing discoveries, but beware. Some academic institutions stipulate attending and speaking at a certain number of conferences in order to maintain academic status.
Here are some tips on choosing proper conferences:
- Workshops! Conferences that invest in small-group workshops are typically more intent on delivering a meaningful and coherent experience for attendees. Sign up for workshops, and try to line up as much hands-on experience as you can get.
- Advertising. Conferences that truly care about attendance will typically advertise. Conversely, if it’s a “pretend” conference, it will be kept under the radar.
- Curation. When you look at the conference schedule, it has to make sense as a coherent, connected programme.
At a legitimate conference, set yourself the goal of experiencing as much as you can: attend all the workshops, participate in all the discussions, and don’t miss out on any of the speakers that are important to you.
As you listen to a talk or take part in a workshop, note the contextual details: how the speakers work, how they perform certain medical procedures, what their workplace looks like, what tools they use etc. These are the things that many speakers typically take for granted and, because they are so ingrained, they might not typically talk about them. But for you as an observer, such details can be transformative.
Magazines, Sites and Books
This is simple. Read stuff that is often cited and respected. Avoid obscure magazines that exist only to improve some academics’ statistics. Follow the ones that are worthy of your attention on all social media, attend their conferences.
In our field, publishers and academics treasure their reputation, so they will strive to provide you with the best possible content. We recommend The Dental Tribune. It is rich with case studies and industry news.
One of the most popular magazine publications among dentists is Dentistry Today, the US magazine that is known for consistently bringing fresh news on various topics related to dentistry and its management. Dentaltown, which is available as both a printed and e-magazine, provides industry news, details on new products and stories from real dentists, whilst more about office management, business, financial and leadership tips can be found in Dental Economics.
There is a ton of e-learning resources, both paid and free. Here is what to look for:
- Specialization. Some resources will claim to teach you anything, from dentistry to surgery, to Python and PHP. These are so-called learning aggregators that care very little about what to sell. When you get targeted by a dentistry-related e-learning ad, click on the site logo and explore their other courses. If you are on a specialized e-learning site, you’re good.
- Guaranteed one-on-one time and/or feedback in paid training. Once an online course has been pre-recorded, it costs close to nothing to serve, so when you pay for some educational content, make sure you get at least some sort of feedback or peer review.
- Avoid content hoarding. There is a tendency among today’s students to accumulate content and never actually watch it. We tend to forget that it’s not enough to subscribe and download some online classes. You also have to invest your time in learning, practicing and understanding the material.
As an e-learning provider ourselves, we can recommend you follow our webinars: www.curadenacademy.com. Register at Curaden Academy, and you’ll get access to on-demand and live webinars with our experts.
Dental Tribune is also home to a whole bunch of webinars, make sure you check them out: www.dental-tribune.com/education/
Workshops and in-person training
This is the best and the most effective type of learning. Everything you do in this context – in person, by hand, supervised by a teacher – is golden. The efficiency is much greater, the results are consistently better, and this stays with you your entire life. So, wherever you can, sign up for classes, practices and workshops, even those that are organized by vendors of dental aids, tools and materials.
Even better: let those vendors bring the most cutting edge materials for you to play with. If you see a famous dental vendor will be organizing a presentation or a hands-on workshop in your area, be the first to sign up – it’s not every day that you get to work with state-of-the-art machinery and materials! You won’t necessarily need them in your everyday work, but the experience of learning about them can be extremely valuable.
It is always worth joining organisations and associations for students or professionals. EDSA – European Dental Students’ Association is an active community for students of dentistry, but it also conducts research, organises meetings, offersexchange programmes between universities across Europe, and issues its own informative magazine. Or if you are more interested in research topics and the future of dentistry, join the IADR(International Association for Dental Research) and enjoy access to their scientific publications with the latest research.
We host a number of events around the world; be sure to check them out: www.facebook.com/iTOPforStudents/
Prophylaxis training for future professionals
Do you believe that prevention and proper oral care is essential for the future of oral health? Sign up for one of our unique iTOP courses to learn more!
Individually Trained Oral Prophylaxis (iTOP) seminars and events, held regularly around the world, are specifically designed to further educate the future generation of dental professionals in basic preventive therapy, patient motivation, coaching and mentoring. Not only will they keep you smiling, iTOP events will also help to ensure your success as a dentist.
Check out iTOP’s Facebook page for students for the latest news and our calendar of future events.
- Internships can be extremely valuable for students and beginners. In fact, many of today’s greatest dentists have been interns themselves, so don’t shy away from this opportunity. Check out this site for news on internships and other activities: iads-web.org
- Many of today’s industry-leading dentists and hygienists have dedicated social media channels for posting professional content. Many of them also do regular Q&A sessions. Be there … Ask questions!
- Unclutter your newsfeed by unsubscribing from the channels that no longer seem to have as much value. Conversely, force Facebook to prioritize posts from professionals and companies that matter to you. Current social algorithms can prevent you from seeing valuable content in favour of your friends’ cat or your cousin’s wedding.