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In pursuit of continuous improvement

12th July 2022

They say that continued improvement is better than delayed perfection. This is true in almost every field but, for me as an endodontist, there’s nothing more satisfying than learning and getting better at what I do. When something, however small, falls in place and you experience that eureka moment, it’s addictive. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy training – you get to see that moment in your students all the time.

It would be all too easy to think we know as much as we need to or that we have accomplished something to perfection. However, there’s always the next challenging case. There is constantly innovating technology. There are young, eager dentists bringing fresh methodologies to the chair. It’s what makes it satisfying – as well as frustrating! It’s like putting a bookworm into the British Library – the possibilities and options are endless, where do we start? 

The scope of dentistry means that some of us choose to focus in one area – to pursue one aspect within the wider context – to get more skilled and accomplished at it. This shows why continuous improvement isn’t only better than delayed perfection but is actually the only route – we never stop learning. 

“KAIZEN™ means improvement. Moreover, it means continuing improvement in personal life, home life, social life, and working life. When applied to the workplace KAIZEN™ means continuing improvement involving everyone – managers and workers alike.” 

[Masaaki Imai, Founder of Kaizen Institute]

Using the 5 principles of Kaizen, we believe that improvement is essential in every aspect of our lives – not just work – so applying the Kaizen approach works for everything we do. Kaizen literally means ‘change for the better’ or ‘improvement’ in Japanese. We will outline its fundamentals in future articles.

Here are my top 5 personal reasons for continuing to improve:

Having more to offer your patient

By learning new skills you are developing the ability to manage more of your patients’ treatment needs yourself. Learning from others and transferring those skills to your own daily cases means your patient benefits from more immediate treatment, involving fewer clinicians, with a reduced need for so much travel and additional appointments. The more you know, the more value you can offer, particularly when faced with unknown or complex cases.

Widening your career horizons

Adding more complex and varied experience to your CV will open many doors if you’re looking to develop and grow. Harness all your learning and use your myriad skills as and when you need to call on them; from assessment and diagnosis through to treatment and aftercare – to the level you’re comfortable with.

Growing your community

Attending lectures, meetings and courses will put you into contact with all sorts of dental professionals. These networking opportunities can be a great place to share stories and experiences. Dentistry can be isolating so building your tribe is essential – and the best way to make beneficial contacts and lasting friendships.

Sharing your knowledge

Being generous with your skills, techniques, experiences and information helps the people around you, your teams and most importantly, your patients. What’s more, people remember your generosity.

Satisfaction

It sounds so wholesome but there’s a great sense of achievement to be had when you’re absorbing information that will help your patients. The buzz of a job well done will stay with you.

The learning process is something that we committed to as dentists. We knew that CPD points would punctuate the years of our practice and reflect our dedication. Like most professions, you qualify and then continue to prove yourself until you retire. Embrace the growth and potential it brings but most of all, just enjoy the journey.

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