The pursuit of lifelong learning-whether to enrich our lives, follow a new dream, or simply challenge ourselves, is certainly something that appeals to many of us. For some professionals, however, ongoing training in their fields of expertise is more important than for others. Individuals working in the medical and dental fields are entrusted with the safety and comfort of others on a daily basis. Should they choose to rely upon their initial training indefinitely, ignoring ongoing developments and technological advances, they would be putting their practices at legal risk and jeopardizing the health and welfare of their patients. In these fields, it's simply not an option to assume that there is nothing more to learn.
Dental continuing education is essential for anyone working within the dental field. As in the medical field, technological advances in the field come at a rapid-fire pace, and staying abreast of the latest research, tools and treatment methods is crucial. Ongoing training for dental professionals is so important that most states require that dentists and hygienists complete a certain number of dental continuing education activities each year in order to remain licensed to practice. These requirements vary from state to state, and in some cases also apply to dental assistants.
Pursuing continued education in the dental field can be beneficial in several ways. For a dentist who is currently in practice, ongoing continuing education ensures that his or her patients have access to the latest diagnostic, preventative and treatment methods. For an individual just beginning a career in the dental field, dental continuing education can open new career pathways, provide opportunities for advancement and improve earning power.
A wide variety of dental continuing education activities are available for both working and non-working individuals. If your goal is simply to stay informed about new research findings and updated industry best practices, there are plenty of low-cost, self-paced online courses that can help you to meet your state's continuing education requirements and enhance your ability to perform your current job role. If you are interested in furthering your formal education, however, in order to advance your career in the dental field, you may wish to pursue a degree or certificate program. For example, a dental assistant may discover that she is interested in pursuing a career as a hygienist-whether to earn a higher salary or simply to experience more personal fulfillment in her job role. In this case, she would need a degree from an accredited dental hygiene school in order to obtain her license.
Regardless of the pathway you choose, as a dental professional you should consider your pursuit of education to be a lifelong endeavor. Doing so will not only better position you to advance within your chosen field; it will also ensure that you're able to provide the best possible care for your patients.