An Educated Decision
The most successful people in any industry usually demonstrate a strong academic background supplemented by years of experience and diligent work in their field. For dental technicians, the importance of a sound education cannot be challenged nor can the countless number of hours spent in the laboratory be overestimated. Both are important. However, a sound education alone cannot replace the value of many hours spent in the laboratory, but relying only on years of experience while ignoring developments and changes in the field of dental technology can be detrimental as well. Through my personal experience as a laboratory owner and ceramist, I have learned that in order to remain relevant in dental technology and dentistry, as with almost any field, requires a balance of lifelong learning through continuing education coupled with the experience garnered through years of casework in the laboratory.
Experience generated through years of work in the laboratory can not be overlooked; skill and practice help inform our decisions as we navigate the challenges we face from difficult cases, dentists, and clients. Yet that experience must not block our intake of new information or prevent us from pursuing further knowledge. We must fight the urge to take the path of least resistance. I often hear technicians dismiss information about new products or techniques, saying, “Yes, I’ve heard that,” without making any real effort to learn about, understand, and/or implement them. Instead of being intimidated by new ideas and resisting change, we should welcome the unfamiliar and embrace the opportunity to become more educated. We should be open to new ideas, concepts, and techniques, as well as the potential value they may have to our work and the industry. While not every change proves to be dramatically helpful, making informed decisions about new opportunities is impossible without furthering our understanding and knowledge of them.
When faced with the opportunity to utilize new procedures and products, I often hear colleagues say, “I’ve been doing it this way for 30 years,” implying that their vast years of experience override any need for changing course. This attitude, however, can prove to have “Titanic” results. That was certainly true for Captain Edward Smith, the British Naval officer commanding the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Hailed as one of the world’s most experienced sea captains and having many times sailed the icy waters of the North Atlantic, Smith chose to ignore an iceberg warning that fateful night and instead pushed full steam ahead. As Brock Lovett says of the captain in the movie Titanic: “He had 26 years of experience working against him.”
Let us make sure our years of experience don’t blind us to new innovations and information that challenge the procedures and techniques we have become so comfortable performing. Rather, we must welcome and overcome the continuum of change that lies before us. Repeating the same thing over and over, without embracing the new, will only produce the same results. Embrace change, enjoy the challenge, and control your level of success for the future.
Peter Pizzi, MDT, CDT