Professionals have a specially assigned role in the society. Most of the professionals, work for more than thirty years and what all knowledge they gained in the colleges becomes almost obsolete within the first 15 years. Dental professionals who got qualified in the sixties find it difficult to cope up with the explosive knowledge of the present day. Clinical practices have also been subjected to tremendous changes in the recent past. Hence updating periodically is the only method for the dental professional to continue with the successful practice. Lack of updating is considered equivalent to negligence in health care. Dental council has recently put in the stipulation of acquiring credit points for renewal of registration. Restrictions of this nature should be considered as a boon or an opportunity to enhance our professional standing which would help the society to get easy access to the most modern treatment. The common formats of continuing dental education (CDE) or continuing professional development(CPD) are as follows:
Lecture is the most common type of CPD activity. It is traditional and offers full-time educational experience. Only the instructor has to prepare beforehand for the programme and the participants usually come into the lecture hall without preparation, other than having selected to go for the lecture. The lecture method is quite economical on the professionís time and also requires relatively commonplace technical support. It is also an economic type of programme. The difficulty is that it tends to be a very passive form of learning and the main requirement for participants is to be physically present Ė at least at the beginning. CPD credit is usually awarded in terms of hours attended.
Hands-on practical courses: This type of course takes out a large part of the passivity encountered with lectures. This is, however, at the expense of the economy of professional time, technical support requirements and cost. It is also not an easy option for mass participation. Hands-on courses often involve practising techniques on a table top or in a dedicated skills laboratory but occasionally participants may be involved in the treatment of patients.
Journal clubs and study groups: Journal clubs are essential learning tools employed in postgraduate courses. But later this disappears from the horizon of the professional. If continued, they provide professional expertise and are relatively economical to run, but again mass participation is difficult. The technical and other educational resources required are usually provided through group initiatives. This type of programme in particular has the added benefit of peer contact and collegiality in supporting learning.
Scientific meeting is a very popular form of CPD. There may be a mix of lecture-based and hands-on programmes. Organising such meetings successfully for participants to gain valuable CPD experience is a time consuming and expensive business.
Online programmes : Online CPD encompasses a wide range or types of learning, each with a varying degree of user participation. Distance education should be considered as an alternative especially where the dentist population is widely dispersed and attendance at meetings may be difficult due to long distances. Online programmes may consist of reading articles or viewing lectures/educational programmes online, and may include a set of questions to be answered at the end of the activity. These programmes may also be continuous rather than one-off activities. Internet forums or chat groups are worth considering as other possible means for online learning although they are not yet widely used.
Each and every prosthodontist should strive hard to get himself updated and to educate others so that our professional relevance will remain unchallenged.