The stepwise approach to development
Shiraz Khan explains the path he took to become the best dentist he can be.
Having qualified relatively recently, within the last five years, dentistry appears to be going through fast and significant changes with respect to technology, media, and material advances. However, one specific aspect that remains consistent is the continuous and stepwise nature to progression clinically, socially and educationally.
Having reflected on my development outcomes and goals over the past few years, it is clear that progressive consistent growth confers significant long-term advantages rather than quick hyper-inflated visiblity. What does that mean for the young dentist?
Well, put simply – spending time learning the craft, understanding the communication process between oneself and their patients and reflecting on restorative recall can only come with time.
Taking a prudent member of the profession as an example, Dr Subir Banerji is able to demonstrate clinical recall of some of his direct restorations for over 20 years. This is far more impressive than some beautiful clinical photography demonstrating a restoration that was well-placed on day 0 of its life cycle. Another perfect example is Dr Tif Qureshi, who demonstrates orthodontic stability of his cases for over 15 years. It is his ability to be discerning enough with regards to appropriate case-selection, but also due to his insight into the orthodontic restorative interface being inter-twinned within his decision-making and treatment planning processes.
But time and progression mean more than just demonstrating longevity of restorations or intervention. It also applies to staging your development.
An important starting point
Commencing at a level which will excel your development within the few years post-qualification and application of these skills over a period of two-three years is an important starting point. Subsequent advancement of your knowledge and skills by seeking a higher-level of education, or perhaps international pedigree may be part of the aspirations of a progressing dentist.
As an example, once I qualified I undertook the Young Dentist Academy course to push my understanding and clinical expertise to a higher level. Once I had been putting this into practise for several years, I felt I wanted to travel abroad to further my understanding in specific competencies within clinical dentistry. This led me to Portofino Med with Walter Devoto and the Style Italiano philosophy, which provided me with large drive to keep pushing my clinical standards up. As I had been practising these skills over the past two-three years, I then decided that I would like more academic rigor behind my clinical decision-making and treatment provision for more advanced cases, so I decided to embark on a masters in restorative dentistry.
The final mention is in regards to mentoring. A huge inspiration to my work and above all, a good friend, is Andrew Chandrapal. Not only have I been sending cases along to him for the past four-five years, but more importantly, it is about always remaining humble enough to receive critical and constructive appraisal of your work in a controlled or personal environment. This in itself has provided me with invaluable insight into the development of myself as a clinician.
The purpose of this editorial is not to imply that the journey I have taken is the gold-standard, as this is not the case by any means. Just as a cavity preparation varies from tooth to tooth, each of our journeys will also differ. However, the principles for cavity design are fairly consistent, which draws a parallel to systemisation on one’s development as a clinician.
There is no ‘quick’ method for obtaining experience, this just takes time. But a continuously reflective clinician is one that will strive to push his or her clinical/social and academic standards up, but, and above all, feel rewarded as a clinician.