In the four years that Dr. Benjamin DeGraff has been involved with Spear Education, he has developed a new perspective on dentistry that has given him a stronger foundational knowledge through which to diagnose and treat his patients, maximize his time on campus and engage with his community.
DeGraff has actively immersed himself in Spear’s unique “layered learning” experience, which has enhanced his campus experience by delving into seminar and workshop subjects online (and vice versa). Spear’s platform encourages doctors to build a foundational knowledge before coming to campus and continue the learning well after they return home.
He said his experience preparing for and attending the Airway Prosthodontics seminar was a great example of how that multidimensional learning experience sheds light on his patients’ conditions.
“My eyes were opened to some of the stuff I had noticed before, but maybe hadn’t understood what may have been causing some of the issues going on with my patients,” he said. “Being able to watch those courses and see some of the stuff that I’ve been seeing in my own practice made me realize that I needed to come to the seminar and get more information.”
DeGraff's learning process naturally comes full circle with Spear’s emphasis on team learning and collaborative implementation. Along with attending seminars and working through the relevant courses, he is committed to learning with and alongside his entire team and ensuring the entire practice is operating under the same philosophy and clinical expertise.
“When I’m going to come to a specific course at Spear, I’ll look for some information on the website first and watch that to get an introduction,” he explained. “A lot of times, I can also use that to review after I’ve been to a course. That’s helped with a lot of things – for instance, when I took FGTP, it was really good to review all the photography protocol ahead of time. I also used that with my staff when we were changing our photography protocol back at our office.”
Another major tool he’s used to implement better clinical techniques throughout the practice - and bring the team closer together in the process - is Spear Curriculum. He lauded it as an efficient method for streamlining the learning process and bringing everything together to make absorbing, remembering and implementing new information a smoother and more efficient process.
“I like how Curriculum is set up; it goes with the layered learning that I like that Spear does here,” DeGraff said. “Curriculum is a way to make sure you’re going through videos that all interconnect … There are videos that have applied to specific changes that I’ve watched and had them watch, and they’ve really liked what they’ve seen.”
Curriculum is one of many aspects of Spear that has allowed DeGraff to view his patients and their conditions from brand new perspectives in order to offer diagnoses and treatment in ways he may not have been able to do before beginning with Spear.
“I feel like I was able to utilize the curriculum videos to be able to see what is going on with my patients in a way that I wasn’t able to see before,” he said. “It also made me more comfortable presenting that treatment, or at least talking about that treatment with patients.”
So what’s the key to truly bringing the Spear learning experience full-circle, in a way that creates not only a stronger practice and team, but a stronger dental community as a whole? And what does Dr. DeGraff recommend as a way for someone new to Spear online (and perhaps even new to dentistry or the independent practice) to get started with the platform and reap huge results?
“I have a good friend that went from corporate dentistry to his own practice,” he said. “And in that transition, he was a little floored … we talked about Spear Study Clubs and things of that nature, and I absolutely encouraged him to join mine – not only because it’s good support locally where we live, but also the information you have available online, you can do it at any point in time that works for you. And it’s good information – something you can actually take back, utilize and apply.”