The Importance of Dental CE Credits for Providers
Dental providers go through quite a bit of education to get to the point where they can practice dental medicine. It is neither a quick nor easy process, and providers must maintain a high level of commitment to their work to complete their education and begin their career. And their education doesn’t stop upon the completion of their formal coursework. Even after graduating from dental school, providers must be lifelong learners and stay up to date with the most current and relevant clinical research and knowledge in the field of dentistry. That’s where dental CE credits come to play.
How To Become A Professional Dental Provider
The path to becoming a dental provider is a long one, traditionally beginning with four years of undergraduate education. If the goal is to be a dentist, with the official title of DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery), you must then attend dental school for your graduate education. Dental programs typically consist of 4 years of coursework, with the option to continue your education in the form of a residency program if you would like to enter a more specialized subfield like orthodontics. What does an orthodontist do to prepare for their career? An orthodontic residency would consist of an additional two to three years of training on top of a four-year dental graduate program. Following dental school and/or a residency program, providers must then also pass the appropriate national and state board licensure exams to be able to practice.
While traditional courses are one of the more common ways to become a dental provider, there are some degree programs that are offered at least partially online. While online courses can cover some, or even most, of the material that is required for these programs, not everything can be completed entirely online. Some clinical work or lab work must be completed in person, meaning that even online dental programs typically require at least a few in person sessions per semester or per year.
However, online courses provide a great way for dental providers who are already licensed to keep up with the most current research and knowledge in dental medicine. They are more convenient and can provide access to educational materials to a larger group of people than traditional in person courses.
Dental conferences are a great way for dental providers and dental providers in training to learn more about the current news and research in the field of dentistry. There are a variety of different conferences available to attend, all in different locations on different topics within the field. At conferences, scientists and dental professionals will present research and knowledge within their specialty field, allowing others to learn and deepen their own knowledge.
Why Dental CE Credits Are Important
As discussed briefly above, a dental provider’s education does not stop with the conclusion of dental school or the completion of a dental residency program. Clinical research in dentistry advances daily, and new information and technology is nearly constantly being generated. To be able to provide the most quality care for their patients, dental providers must continue to stay up to date with the most recent research and discoveries in their field.
For instance, new dentistry methods may have been developed since a dental provider has completed dental school or a residency program. It would not make sense, nor would it be fair to the patient, for that provider to use old and outdated treatment methods. Imagine if all orthodontists chose not to continue their education past what some might consider the year of “formal” education in graduate school and during residency- nobody would be able to take advantage of newer treatments in the field of orthodontia, such as Invisalign, Damon braces, or Byte aligners.
New Career Pathways
Continuing education can also allow for changing career paths within the field of dentistry to something slightly different. For example, an individual who completed dental school and has been practicing general dentistry for the past several years may wish to continue their education and complete an orthodontic residency. This continued education opens a whole new career for such individuals, which can in turn help maintain passion for their work and prevent burnout.
To be legally able to practice dentistry, it is not enough to complete a doctoral degree in the field. To become a licensed dentist, you must also pass written and clinical exams, and the clinical exams are specific to the state in which you plan on practicing. Each state (within the United States) has its own dental boards, which is the governing body that sets the standards for dental licensure within the state. The written exam is the same in all states, and it is administered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations. Clinical exams are required by most states and do tend to vary from state to state. If you complete a dental residency and plan on practicing in a more specialized field of dentistry, then you will likely need to complete additional licensure exams.
What does all of this have to do with dental CE credits? Well, a license to practice general dentistry or a dental specialty does not last forever. To continue being a (legally) practicing dentist, you must periodically retake national and/or state dental board exams. To prepare for retaking these exams, you must continue to review material relevant to your field and stay up to date on the latest clinical practices.
Although it might sound cliché, healthcare professionals like dental providers must be interested in lifelong learning. After the completion of four years of undergraduate education, another four years of dental school, and potentially another few years of residency, dental providers are still not done learning. To be the best providers possible and deliver the highest quality of care to their patients, they must continue to invest time and energy into their continued education and keep their knowledge of the field as up to date as possible.
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Sophia Agrella is a Medical Content Writer in the field of medicine and research. She is currently studying and working as a medical assistant. Her work is usually for Medical and Dental Magazines. She is also a blogger and writing exclusively about healthcare.
The Teeth Blog is a small company founded in 2017 created by a team of teeth enthusiasts to share our past experiences, helping everyone chose the best option to get a perfect smile.