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Forum Category: General Dentistry

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Lessons from an Experienced Dentist

Here are some tips from veteran clinician Frank Milnar on how to build your legacy and reputation and avoiding some pitfalls along the way.    

  

What is the difference between a 70-year-old dentist and you? The difference is experience. Experience is a tough teacher. First you get the test, then you get the lesson.  


 

Wisdom comes with age. Unfortunately I can’t tell you you’re wise in your late 20s and early 30s. In my 60s, I’m becoming more wise all the time, and I can see the future by looking at the past.   

  • Know your limits. Don’t overshoot the runway. I know you want to tackle anterior complex bonding, indirect procedures, restore implants, etc, but please, listen to me. Do not do things that you are not technically trained to do. It may come back and bite you, and you may get the lesson of experience versus the reward of experience.  
  • Understand the risk. Every time you put your hands in somebody’s mouth, there’s risk. Every time you take a tooth apart, there’s risk. Every time you build something, there’s risk. You have to understand the risk yourself and explain to the patient at all times where you are on the risk scale.  
  • Know the cause of failure. If you cannot discern the cause of failure, you are destined to repeat it, and nothing good comes of it. 

What are some lessons you have already learned in clinicals? What lessons have your mentors taught you? What traits do you look for in a mentor as you navigate the profession?

 

 

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Lessons from an Experienced Dentist

02:48 PM | Mar 05,2017
As a D2 student, it is easy to sit back and realize the progress I have made since starting dental school. I am equipped with so much more knowledge about general anatomy, orofacial pathology, and my hands are finally beginning to show a semblance of competency. I think this post is very valid in its assertions, as we must always be aware that every tooth we drill is practice. I want to someday be a very successful dentist, but this does not come with just a few years of experience. It is important to think of every success and failure in dental school as an important influence in our future careers. As long as I see myself making progress each an every day, I know that I am getting the most out of my dental education

Lessons from an Experienced Dentist

08:56 AM | Feb 21,2017
Pretty interesting post. I think that it is totally valid to know my limits understand the risk and know the cause of failure. I feel like without taking the initiative in doing this we can become lost as clinicians and run into trouble!

Lessons from an Experienced Dentist

09:32 PM | Feb 21,2016
This is three great pieces of advice for clinical dentistry! One lesson I have learned is remember to follow the steps in your head no matter how fast you need to do a procedure. The times that I have had the most mistakes is when I get lost in the chaos and start skipping steps. I miss things and then have to go back and redo them. Something that I often try to skip is looking at the prep or restoration from different angles before having it evaluated. One lesson that I have used several times is walking away when you are stuck. Having recently gone through my live patient exam this is something that I practiced when I felt like the pressure was getting to be too much. Instead of having my assistant grabbing something for me I would do it to clear my head for a second. A trait that I look for in a mentor is patience and a calm nature. Since I sometimes get too much in my head, I often need a mentor to pull me out and be there as a reminder that I can do this.

Lessons from an Experienced Dentist

09:32 PM | Feb 21,2016
This is three great pieces of advice for clinical dentistry! One lesson I have learned is remember to follow the steps in your head no matter how fast you need to do a procedure. The times that I have had the most mistakes is when I get lost in the chaos and start skipping steps. I miss things and then have to go back and redo them. Something that I often try to skip is looking at the prep or restoration from different angles before having it evaluated. One lesson that I have used several times is walking away when you are stuck. Having recently gone through my live patient exam this is something that I practiced when I felt like the pressure was getting to be too much. Instead of having my assistant grabbing something for me I would do it to clear my head for a second. A trait that I look for in a mentor is patience and a calm nature. Since I sometimes get too much in my head, I often need a mentor to pull me out and be there as a reminder that I can do this.

Lessons from an Experienced Dentist

09:32 PM | Feb 21,2016
This is three great pieces of advice for clinical dentistry! One lesson I have learned is remember to follow the steps in your head no matter how fast you need to do a procedure. The times that I have had the most mistakes is when I get lost in the chaos and start skipping steps. I miss things and then have to go back and redo them. Something that I often try to skip is looking at the prep or restoration from different angles before having it evaluated. One lesson that I have used several times is walking away when you are stuck. Having recently gone through my live patient exam this is something that I practiced when I felt like the pressure was getting to be too much. Instead of having my assistant grabbing something for me I would do it to clear my head for a second. A trait that I look for in a mentor is patience and a calm nature. Since I sometimes get too much in my head, I often need a mentor to pull me out and be there as a reminder that I can do this.

Lessons from an Experienced Dentist

09:32 PM | Feb 21,2016
This is three great pieces of advice for clinical dentistry! One lesson I have learned is remember to follow the steps in your head no matter how fast you need to do a procedure. The times that I have had the most mistakes is when I get lost in the chaos and start skipping steps. I miss things and then have to go back and redo them. Something that I often try to skip is looking at the prep or restoration from different angles before having it evaluated. One lesson that I have used several times is walking away when you are stuck. Having recently gone through my live patient exam this is something that I practiced when I felt like the pressure was getting to be too much. Instead of having my assistant grabbing something for me I would do it to clear my head for a second. A trait that I look for in a mentor is patience and a calm nature. Since I sometimes get too much in my head, I often need a mentor to pull me out and be there as a reminder that I can do this.

Lessons from an Experienced Dentist

04:46 PM | Oct 22,2015
This is great and logical advice. Experience is key. I feel like the information I learn never really "sticks" until I actually apply it. In clinic we are very cautious and are supervised by experienced faculty so I have learned so much but I know I still know so little. With every experience, with every case, with every patient, the clinician will learn something new. No case is the same and working in a patient's mouth is nothing like working on a typodont in the pre-conic. My mentors have taught me to always have multiple options ready for a case and to always be as prepared as our knowledge and very little experience allows us to be. I look for a mentor who is willing to go the extra mile to teach, one who enjoys explaining the steps on the procedure while being concise and to the point and one you welcomes questions because I definitely ask a lot !

Lessons from an Experienced Dentist

07:49 PM | Sep 27,2015
Frank Milnar's tips are practical and reasonable; he also makes an excellent point about the importance of experience. Luckily, dental students have the ability to learn from experienced faculty and mentors, who have been in the profession for years. These experienced faculty usually have much wisdom to share - things that cannot be learned by simply reading a textbook. Throughout my dental school experience, I've found the best mentors to be the ones who are truly passionate about teaching. Their enthusiasm for sharing knowledge typically enables them to both connect and pass along information more effectively.