Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Liking CE Less and Less

I am enjoying continuing education (CE) courses less and less these days.

There has been a lot written in the dental literature recently about the dwindling numbers of attendees at both CE courses and dental meetings (conventions). Although there are multiple factors as to why this is occurring, here is what bothers me.

I will attend a course that may be underwritten, in part, by some dental company. I understand the need for this. I know someone has to pay for the meeting room rental, the rubber chicken lunch, and the speaker.

However, after the thrill of learning new information has worn off, for weeks after the course I am harassed by the sponsors. The phone calls to the office or my cellphone won’t cease. “Can I drop by your office to demo my product? Can I set up a lunch and learn?” This is especially frustrating when there is a product that I don’t need or sincerely have no interest in. “Why aren’t you interested? Let me drop by and I’ll show you why you can’t live without it.” If I had any interest, I would have talked to them at the table they set up at the CE class.

The first few times of nonstop calls were irritating. Now it is much more irritating, so much so that I cringe at the thought of attending my next CE course.

You might be thinking, “So why don’t you just attend non-sponsored courses like the ones at your local dental school?” I thought of that, too, until I looked up how much the schools in my area charge for a regular seven-hour CE course. After I regained consciousness I wondered:

Does this price include a limousine to take me to and from the course? Will there be a private chef serving me gourmet food throughout the entire class?
I’ve had the same experience at dental meetings. I enjoy visiting the exhibit halls. I make it a point to visit each booth to see what is new in the dental world. I think you’d agree that this does not mean I am interested in purchasing every single product being demonstrated. Sometimes, I just wish to see things in person that I’ve only seen in magazines. However, this has led to trouble for me and my front office manager—nonstop calls for weeks from 10 to 20 vendors: “But he stopped by our booth and spoke with us. He MUST be interested!”
So now I’m left with online or written at-home courses. These work fine and are more economical. This explains their growing popularity among the dental community. However, getting me to actually sit down and take a course is a chore. I could be doing something much more productive, like sitting on my patio and playing guitar.

Oh well, I need to go and warn my staff that I am scheduled to take a class this weekend.

Andy Alas, DDS


AGD Blogs said...

Having been on the planning end of CE courses, it has become extremely expensive to put them on. The speakers typically get 5,000-10,000, then another 2,000-3,000 for food and on top of that is the meeting space. I do understand your frustration and this is very much like a patient coming in and complaining about the fees going up or their ins not paying as much as it used to. The dentist understands expenses in their office and why fees need to go up but that doesn’t matter to the patient. A CE course planner understands why there has to be a sponsor, which by the way also has the stresses of higher expenses for their business. It’s a vicious circle. I ask you to be more understanding with the providers of CE courses and remember how frustrated you feel about a patient complaining about things you have no control over.

Frank Conaway DMD, MAGD

Unknown said...

Dr. Conaway speaks the truth about the challenges we face in planning effective dental meetings. Your opinion is shared by many as well. The meetings cost has risen exponentially and it is very challenging for CE planners to keep the costs of the meeting down. I particularly like Dr. Conaway's analogy to dental costs and patients views. Try this: 1. keep looking for groups that provide a valuable experience for you. 2. If you really enjoy the face to face meetings, don't give up. 3. There are ways for you to 'opt out' of having your email and phone provided to vendors in an exhibit hall or especially in smaller meetings. Request that your contact information be kept confidential whenever you register for a meeting. All meeting planners should adhere to privacy policies. That way perhaps you can still enjoy the education and eliminate the vendor follow up that you don't want. While online education is very popular, the face to face in-person meetings provide collegiality and learning like none other. I hope this helps to keep you in the meetings game.


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