How Knowledge is the Ultimate Career Currency

Continuing Education Continues Demonstrating its Worth

How Knowledge is the Ultimate Career Currency

By: Arun K. Garg, DMD


Earlier this fall Coursera, the increasingly popular free online continuing education company, made news again. This time it wasn’t about new lectures, or the number of enrollees. It was about the company’s expansion into Latin America. Thanks to a partnership with Brazil’s University of Sao Paulo and the State University of Campinas, Coursera is about to start offering Portuguese courses.


Since its founding in 2012 Coursera has garnered mostly positive press underscoring the growing importance of continuing education and the need for adults to brush up on existing skills or learn new ones. Even for recent higher education graduates (five years or less) the pace of workplace change has grown so swift that employers resist the time and expense required for on-the-job training.


But Coursera isn’t the first company to promote the value of continuing education. The medical profession, with its numerous oversight boards and credentialing agencies in the U.S. and abroad, has a decades’ long head start. In fact, the Institute of Medicine, a non-profit affiliated with the National Academy of Sciences defines what it considers continuing education:

“Continuing education is the process by which health professionals keep up to date with the latest knowledge and advances in health care.”

Free Arizona Continuing Education for Realtors 285x280 How Knowledge is the Ultimate Career Currency

The Enhanced Value of Credentialed Continuing Education

While the above is a perfectly accurate definition I would add an important addendum. For continuing education – or dental health education specifically – to truly maximize its potential, the knowledge acquired must include some type of credentialing accreditation. Just as employers consider the quality of a new employee’s university education as a proxy of future performance, doctors (and their patients) are eager to have their continuing education efforts recognized by reputable sources. Doing so helps doctors take pride in the quality of their education and put patients at ease.


Credentialed, paid-for continuing education is also a way to separate serious learners from those dabbling in the experience – individuals who may not complete a given course. This is perhaps Coursera’s greatest criticism. While the company boasts some 9 million users and over 400 programs, it struggles with a 5 percent course completion rate.


Of course, continuing education is about more than hanging a certificate on the wall or framing a diploma. As with other disciplines, medical knowledge and the technology used to diagnose and treatment plan patients is changing rapidly. Even the way doctors input and share patient data has changed radically in the last few years, evolving from paper charts and manila folders, to integrated software and tablet computers.


Ray Caprio, the former vice president for continuing education at Rutgers University in New Jersey sums up the need for continuing education best. “Every day we know less and less about more and more,” he said in an interview with the New York Times.


Beating Back Brain Drain

Therefore, continuing education super charges your mind and reinvigorates one’s career. After all, remaining relevant and a contributing member to society as we age is of paramount importance. And when we lose that sense of self-worth, especially as men and women in the healing profession, a host of additional challenges manifest including career burnout, declining quality of service (and the risk of lawsuits) and ultimately depression. Learning, it seems, really does keep you young.

brain drain How Knowledge is the Ultimate Career Currency

Increasingly, a growing body of evidence supports continuing education’s cognitive worth. A recent University of Texas study found that adult memory improved over a three month period when a group of adults 60-90 were exposed to new tasks (like learning digital photography and knitting) that took them out of their knowledge comfort zones. Additionally, a 2011 study published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry found that reading books and crafting – the non-medical equivalent of a hands-on experience like a live patient program or work with a cadaver – reduced the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment by up to 50%, a condition which affects up to 20% of adults 65 and over. Already nearly half of all U.S. physicians (42 percent) are 55 and over and nearly a quarter (21 percent) are over 65. For this age group, remaining sharp isn’t only a matter of professional satisfaction. It’s about maintaining their quality of life and their patients’ safety.


As a national lecturer on implant dentistry whose dental health education courses are approved by the Academy of General Dentistry, I can personally attest to the fact that credentialed American dental education in a continuing education format, can be a life-changing, brain-boosting experience. The bottom line: Henry Ford was right when he said, “anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”


Credentialed continuing education and ongoing dental health education doesn’t come in a pill and it can’t be injected. Thus, dentists who seek new knowledge must take the time necessary to investigate what courses work for them and which locations fit their busy schedules. Ongoing knowledge truly is the ultimate career currency and it’s vital doctors of all ages cash in and sign up for a course at their earliest convenience. Their brains – and their patients – will thank them in the years ahead.




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Lights, Camera, Implants!

International Dental Implant Association to Host 8th Annual Symposium in Los Angeles Yearly Gala Attracts Dental Professionals and Guest Speakers From Around the World, Providing an Unmatched Networking ExperienceIDIA logo RGB1 300x300 Lights, Camera, Implants!

Los Angeles, California February XX, 2014 – And the Oscar for best dental symposium goes to… Implant Seminars and its alumni network, the International Dental Implant Association, IDIA! The IDIA is an alumni organization for influential clinicians who have attended Implant Seminars dental continuing education programs with world renowned Arun K. Garg D.M.D. So keep that red carpet out as the IDIA and its 8th annual symposium takes the City of Angels by storm Friday and Saturday March 7-8 by hosting one of its best conventions to date. Hold the applause, though, and pause the Oscars exit music because there’s more to tell. Lights. Camera. Action!

Held at the luxurious and historic Hyatt Regency Century Plaza – located on what was once the back lot of the 20th Century Fox motion picture studio – the event attracts hundreds of renowned dental professionals and guest speakers from across the U.S., Japan and Europe. The gathering allows attendees an unmatched opportunity to network and collaborate with leaders in their respective fields while learning about the newest and most innovative technology and equipment revolutionizing our profession.

“A-list actors might have gone home, but for the International Dental Implant Association, the party is just starting. I can’t tell you how excited I am that the 8th annual IDIA symposium is fast approaching,” said Dr. Garg, Implant Seminars and IDIA founder and president. “It is my hope that attending doctors, clinicians and additional specialists make the most of their time here, but don’t forget to have a great time. This is as much a celebration for all that we’ve accomplished as well as a signature networking event.”

Speaking Parts and Fun With the Arts

This year’s speakers include: New Orleans prosthodontist Israel Finger, IDIA Diplomate Hide Matsui, marketing and technology expert Steven Giovi, Jason H. Goodchild, clinical associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Viora Med National Accounts Manager Sally Gibb, oral surgeon Daniel Vasquez, implant device specialist Jack Hahn, vertical bone augmentation expert Keiichi Naruse, and Dr. Renzo Casellini, a Master Dental Technologist trained in Switzerland.

Like any great film, the IDIA symposium is more than a collection of speakers and it’s more than handshakes and swapped business cards. The IDIA Symposium is also about having fun! After all, we selected Los Angeles as our symposium city less than a week after the 86th Academy Awards for a reason. Tinseltown is an entertainment mecca and the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza – complete with 726 luxurious rooms, the Equinox Fitness Center and LA-inspired cuisine with courtyard and patio dining rooms – is a short drive to Santa Monica restaurants and shops and of course, the city’s famous amusement pier. What better way to spend the second weekend in March?

Credits Roll

By attending the Symposium, attendees will also receive continuing education hours approved by the Academy of General Dentistry and they will return home with an increased knowledge in dental implants – not to mention a belly full of good food and drinks!

“The International Dental Implant Association strives to assist you and your practice to improve your dental education and increase public awareness concerning the benefits of dental implants,” Dr. Garg added. “On top of all this, learning should be fun and enjoyable so we make sure it is!”

For a complete outline of events and speakers or to register please contact the association at the number below. OK. Now you can cue the Oscar exit music…

Symposium Event Location:

Los Angeles

Hyatt Regency Century Plaza

2025 Avenue of the Stars

Los Angeles, CA 90067

(310) 228-1234


Program Hours:

8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


International Dental Implant Association

Phone: 305.945.7334


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Dentistry Goes for Olympic Gold Around the World

whites1 Dentistry Goes for Olympic Gold Around the WorldIn a matter of days U.S. Olympic skater Ashley Wagner became a household name – but not for brining home the gold in the women’s short program of the team competition as she had hoped.

Instead, her name, or rather, her face, has become synonymous with two extreme expressions as she was at first pleased by her performance, smiling and blowing kisses to the audience, then dismayed by the judge’s results. In less than a week, thanks to the wonders of social media and humanity’s not-so-nice tendency toward pack mentality, Ms. Wagner’s face has unfortunately become something of a punch line.

Her clearly aggravated expression has been plastered on hundreds of news websites and video of her reaction (which seems to suggest she’s mouthing an expletive) fills entire pages of YouTube searches. Most embarrassing is that her face has been turned into a meme – popping up across the web. A simple Google search returns 6.4 million hits. For my uniformed readers, a meme, according to, is “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.” While the Merriam-Webster dictionary says the term has been in use since 1976, the Internet has revolutionized its popularity. Now memes are part of videos, animations, and pretty much anything else created in the digital realm.

“I know roughly when I skate a good program where the score should end up. So to score that low was very disappointing for me,” Wagner said, in a CNN article, explaining her reaction.

Pearly Whites? Pricey Teeth?

Inappropriate humor and excessive news coverage aside, as an implant dentist, I couldn’t help but notice something else about Ms. Wagner’s multifaceted expressions. Ms. Wagner, at least based on video and photographic footage, appears to have an exquisite set of upper jaw teeth. Her central and lateral maxillary incisors are a bright white, while her maxillary gingiva (upper gum) is a seemingly healthy pink.

Wager’s expressions – and her teeth – got me thinking about modern dentistry in Russia and developing nations throughout the world. While the health and cosmetic benefits of implant dentistry is increasingly recognized in the United States, other parts of the world lag. Encouragingly, Russia, which has experienced more than a decade of robust growth, is embracing the importance of a healthy mouth. Especially in cities like Moscow, oral hygiene is well publicized and imported brands like Colgate, Aquafresh and Rembrandt toothpaste stock pharmacy shelves, costing $14-$19, as of 2007.

In 1991, by contrast, the average 35-year-old Russian had 12-14 cavities, fillings or missing teeth. In Soviet times toothbrushes were shared within families and dental floss was an oddity. Even in 1994 the average Russian 12-year-old in the city of Voronezh (690 miles due north of Sochi) had nearly four cavities. By 2004, thanks to an aggressive fluoridation program, that figure had fallen to 1.5 cavities.

Other nations have further to go. India, for instance, suffers with some of the world’s worst oral hygiene. According to a 2011 nationwide AC Nielsen survey, 76 percent of dentists believe the country smiles less due to poor dental habits. That said, the country continues to graduate large numbers of dentists (around 13,500 per year) and at least in urban areas, dentist-to-patient ratios have risen from 1:300,000 in the 1960s to approximately 1:10,000 today.

Globally, oral hygiene remains a significant public health challenge as the World Health Organization estimates 5 billion people suffer from cavities. It’s interesting to note, though, that it’s middle-income countries – not the poorest nations – with the highest incidence of cavities.

Turning that Frown Upside Down

So rather than turning Ashley Wagner’s smile – or frown – into the butt of jokes, we should join her supporters and applaud her grit and determination, and of course, appreciate the overwhelming emotions magnifying the entire Olympic experience. It really is the opportunity of a lifetime. At 22, she did more than enough to advance the U.S. skating team.

While I stress that I’ve never given Ms. Wagner an oral examination, and am only relying on the images we’ve all seen, Wagner’s mouth appears healthy. Assuming that is the case, her healthy smile should serve as additional inspiration for the world’s athletes – and their nations’ supporters, that striving for the oral health Olympic gold, is a goal we should all aim for, whether we’re in Sochi, Russia, or anywhere else.


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