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With the coronavirus crisis, it's hard to know where to turn for insight and information on managing your practice as you juggle your many personal responsibilities in this turbulent time.

What will the dental world be like when operations return to normal? It all is overwhelming, especially because we remain isolated in our own practice worlds. We are on solitary islands, practicing alone and independent. Yes, our teams are with us and our families are standing behind us for love and support. But in this crisis, we stand alone as the only person that must manage this milieu of information and handle the demands of a practice shutdown.

There is a way to get support, exchange ideas, share knowledge and collaborate to gain clarity for direction and action moving forward. I believe that now, more than ever, Spear Study Club provides the online resources we need to stay connected with our colleagues. Periodontists, endodontists, surgical specialists and their interdisciplinary teams can connect online through Study Club video conferencing and strengthen their clinical knowledge.

This period of turbulence has created so many unknowns and questions. It is extremely challenging to solve these problems and concerns, sift through the changing information that comes to us each day and to make sense of the directions to take. The unknowns are multiple and significant. But virtual Study Club meetings can help.

START A VIRTUAL CLUB: Talk to a Study Club advisor to learn more about virtual tools and online resources.

We do not have to bear these concerns by ourselves. We are not alone in this turmoil. Our colleagues share the same frustrations and are searching for the same answers. With virtual Study Clubs, you can collaborate with members of your interdisciplinary team guided by Spear online tools and curricula.

The purpose of Study Club is to enhance dental techniques and treatment planning through a collaborative approach. The goal is to bring specialists and restorative dentists together to share ideas, knowledge and in-depth conversations on how to treat more complex cases. As Dr. Frank Spear says: “You only treatment plan what you see, and you only see what you know.”

Dr. Spear uses this statement to help clinicians understand that there are limited resources available to an individual practitioner. The knowledge and skill level applied to case planning and treatment is based solely upon that individual's experiences. However, if a group of interdisciplinary team members come together through Study Club, the knowledge and experience pool becomes exponential.

For clinical study and growth, study club learning is a tremendous tool for expanding minds to treatment alternatives. The intimate, small-group learning of a well-run study club creates improved opportunity for understanding.

“It is often difficult for an individual working in isolation to realize what they do not comprehend.” - Anesthesia and Intensive Care Journal

Connecting with colleagues while social distancing

Fast forward to today's COVID-19 pandemic. As we shelter at home, we are now more isolated than ever. Unfortunately, this is our new normal — at least for the time being. The collaborative opportunity of Study Club creates a sense of calm and reassurance with others. We no longer have to live on individual islands and attempt to survive this crisis alone. As a group, you can support each other with collaborative solutions that help to prevent the wave of uncertainty from destroying your individual practices.

Organizing virtual study club meetings provides reassurance to your dental peers in your community. The feeling of isolation is diminished. In fact, working as a group and sharing information becomes motivational and enhances thoughts, ideas and possibilities. Rather than being mired in frustration and anxiety, communicating and collaborating online creates enthusiasm to cope with the potential financial impact to your practice now, and how to prepare to treat patients in the near future.

“Individuals within groups have a greater chance of identifying what they do not know, clarifying what they do not fully understand and correcting misconceptions …” - Anesthesia and Intensive Care Journal

The point of my article is to attempt to motivate and encourage all dentists to pursue a collaborative form of interaction during this time of crisis. My message to all dentists is, don't do it alone. If you are already in a Study Club, I would encourage you to reach out to your members and advisors to set up a virtual meeting today.

Begin to engage your club with discussions about the many timely dental issues we face today. If you know a general practitioner, associate or a specialist that is not presently involved in a study club, please reach out to them. Lending a helping hand during a time like this is our civic responsibility.

Spear Resources

The Transformative Nature of Small-Group Learning in Dental Study Clubs

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Collaboration leads to better outcomes

To close, I want to paraphrase a quote from Dr. Spear that references the importance of group learning and interaction. In a recent interview, he discussed what the future holds for the next generation of great dentists and answered a question about the characteristics of dentists who are doing exceptionally well.  While this interview occurred before the pandemic, his answer will hold true as we move into a new normal in dentistry.

“Exceptional customer service and attention to individual needs will help dentists thrive,” Dr. Spear said in the interview, adding that a major weakness for dentists is to not collaborate with specialists or restorative colleagues.

Not only does Dr. Spear reference clinical skills and treatment planning, but he also refers to the fact that better outcomes — on any topic or issue — occurs with collaboration and interaction rather than attempting to do everything yourself.

I hope you will take advantage of a collaborative approach and interaction through virtual Spear Study Club opportunities. I am passionate about my Chicago-based “Inspirestudy club and the relationships we have forged over eight years. Our collaborative interactions and shared relationships — throughout this coronavirus crisis — have been instrumental in providing direction, information and a sense of tranquility.

I wish you well. I wish you safety. I wish you health. But above all, I wish you and your peers collaborative success moving forward!

Jeffrey Bonk, D.D.S., is a member of Spear Resident Faculty.


Commenter's Profile Image John C.
April 7th, 2020
How correct you are, we are coming into a new normal and we as a profession can challenge each other in new ways of education. I feel Spear Education is going to set the standard for the future.
Commenter's Profile Image Josh R.
April 14th, 2020
Ive been resistant to schedule a virtual meeting, but you inspired me. As always, thanks Jeff!
Commenter's Profile Image Reazul I.
May 29th, 2020
I am impressed with the level of engagement and collaboration between club leaders and members during their virtual meetings. Indeed a great time to come as a group and learn from each other as much as possible!