Dr. Duggan’s articles

October 3rd 2017 : 


Crash (and Burn) Restorative Dentistry Courses …


Just this morning I was reviewing one of my student’s workbook, which contains written exercises to be done every day during our 12 day course.  This student has had quite a few years where she didn’t do dentistry, and during the first day of the course she struggled a lot.  Her initial preparations were quite poor and showed little understanding of how important restorative fundamentals relate to actual preparations design and execution.  As the course has progressed she shows remarkable improvement – every day her preparations become more and more acceptable, and her awareness demonstrably better.  Her workbook demonstrates clearly that she HAS a good sense of three dimensional visualization, and with the diligent work done over the period of the course, this has become realized in her work and self-satisfaction too.

This story is not unusual.  Many of our students, candidates for school entrance examinations, have either not practiced dental preparations for some period of years, and/or never really understood the basic principles of design and execution in the first place.  It takes time and effort to correct these deficiencies.  It takes a dedicated student – as dedicated as the teachers.

There is little possibility that a very condensed, maybe even two day, course can provide what an aspiring candidate needs.  First:  it might be possible to do well enough on an entrance examination to gain admission – but for the vast majority of people it would not.  These are competitive examinations, and doing better than someone who has dedicated far more time to guided preparation would be unlikely.  Second:  getting INTO a dental school is just the beginning.  How will you perform during the review course at the school?  These courses evaluate your ability to learn, as well as what you know – and poor performance can lead to dismissal.  How do you know you can learn at this kind of rate?  Our students excel in these review courses because they understand the principles well, and have far more personal training than anyone will receive at a dental school, and have the requisite confidence.  Third:  you have to realize that dental schools typically do NOT produce graduates that are competent or confident enough to practice dentistry.  It is possible to actually get the education that you need for competence only if you have thorough background preparation as you ENTER the school.  This cannot be obtained with a  “weekend warrior” course.

Having dedicated over 25 years to hands-on teaching of international dentists on a daily basis, and paying rapt attention to every detail of their learning experience and future successes during this period – I have a very clear picture of what is needed for a person to be able to take advantage of what learning opportunities are available in the U.S.  You need to TAKE advantage of every learning opportunity you have, especially before admission to a dental school, and be especially pro-active in developing your educational experiences to the maximum.  Dental school is quite expensive, and most people do not enter with the preparation required for them to make the most of the money they are spending.  Saving a few thousand dollars now does not make sense when compared to only getting half of the learning you could get from a program costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We have a student in our Institute this week who is currently a 4-year student at a U.S. dental school.  Her mother studied with me 15 years ago for her licensure challenges.  This student is spending her school vacation with us, learning what they do not teach at the school – the basis of why we do what we do, and how to do it efficiently and competently.  I have had many such students over the years – often children of former students who have learned to “see the light”.

My dedication to the international dental community leads me to care deeply for those driven to seek licensure in the U.S.  My dedication to the quality of dentistry in the U.S. leads me to support each candidate’s individual efforts to be the best that they can be, without “cutting any corners”.  And we have assembled an incredible team to accomplish this.

I often tell the story of the dentist I worked with who had been practicing in California for 25 years, and was not happy with his practice.  We discovered it was because he sensed he didn’t know if he was doing good dentistry or not.  When he went through the program with me, he knew he had not been, and that he was starting to.  He had graduated dental school without a profound understanding of the principles, so his standards and landmarks were not based on knowledge, but on the basis of what was “good enough” according to his instructors.  Dental school is still largely taught this way – and your only protection is the kind of solid preparation ahead of time that we provide.  This dentist student of mine learned to enjoy his practice again and started part-time teaching at a dental school, to share his learning and experiences!  Imagine his joy after so many years of doubt.

You should navigate dental school and enjoy your practice without doubt – but with confidence and excitement.  This does not come automatically with the DDS diploma – it only comes from dedicated work, with dedicated teachers, and it starts NOW!