Align your C.E. planning with your business plan

Continuing education (C.E.) is an important aspect of being a dentist, and while it can take up time and resources to make sure the appropriate amount of C.E. units are taken, dentists should use it as an opportunity to improve their practice on the business side as well as the clinical side.

Developing a business plan is a fundamental step dentists should take if they want to make their practices run more efficiently. A business plan is a blueprint for how the dentist will establish a successful practice and it demonstrates to a lender how well he or she has researched and thought out the necessary elements of a practice.

A business plan should include capital improvements such as leasehold enhancements and equipment, marketing expenses and continuing education. The plan should have a timeline of three to five years and be updated annually. Subsequently, any dentist who is selecting which courses to take at an event like CDA Presents The Art and Science of Dentistry in San Francisco on Sept. 4-6 should make sure that those courses line up with his or her practice’s business plan and vision, according to Michael Perry, DDS, CDA’s director of Practice Management.

“The old idea of choosing courses that simply seem interesting is probably not the best way to plan the use of your resources,” Perry said. “There are C.E. courses that can help you become a better clinical dentist and help your practice become successful at the same time.”

Perry encourages dentists to plan ahead for events like CDA Presents and “look at the areas in your practice where you could improve the experience for the patient, make your practice function better and improve your brand”

“For example, let’s say you want to work more with patients who have dental phobias. You have to ask yourself how this would increase both your current flow of patients and patient base. You can then look for C.E. courses on sedation dentistry, hypnosis and altering the physical office to accommodate patients’ needs for privacy and comfort,” Perry said.

Experts with CDA Practice Support are available to assist doctors in business planning, capacity calculations, ROI analyses and strategic C.E. planning.

The CDA Presents Board of Managers encourages attendees of the San Francisco convention to plan ahead so that they get all of the courses they want and can schedule their days accordingly.

“When attendees get there and then try to plan out the courses they want to take, they aren’t able to maximize the value of the convention,” said Del Brunner, DDS, chair of the CDA Presents Board of Managers. “Make the most of your time at CDA Presents by preparing a schedule that allows time to get from one class to the next, meet your C.E. needs and build the knowledge to support your practice goals. There are a lot of valuable courses to take advantage of.”  

Like Brunner, James Van Sicklen, DDS, CDA Presents San Francisco 2015 program chair, emphasizes how proper scheduling is key.

"My advice would be to plan your meeting and courses strategically. Arrive at least a half hour early for courses you really want to hear. Better yet, use reserved seating when possible. Have a backup plan of other courses, should your first choice be full," Van Sicklen said. "Also, be aware of potential traffic, parking or public transportation issues and plan a 'buffer zone' around them. Don't try and pack too many courses into one day. It may be much less stressful to incorporate some time between courses – use it to visit the exhibitors."

Course listings and speakers can be found in the Preliminary Program.

CDA Practice Support has a business plan template available to member dentists at cda.org/practicesupport that is modifiable to fit their particular circumstance.

For more information on CDA Presents, visit cdapresents.com.