Education in its true sense is not merely academic training that prepares a person for his chosen vocation or profession. It has a much broader and deeper meaning. It embodies a lifetime of experiences and achievements.
When the routine of fundamental schooling is completed, education from a practical viewpoint begins. Principles acquired in institutions much be applied, and adjustments made to practical conditions. Advancements in methods and practice have to be acquired, and we are called upon to accept or reject judiciously the ever-new developments of progress.
Dentistry, as well as other professions, is called upon to keep pace with the times, to progress and advance its cause and to find ways and means to solve the problems facing it. With these accomplished we must apply new methods with intelligence and prudence.
Acquisition of advanced knowledge is necessary to continue in the position we hold as servants of mankind.
Many of our foremost practitioners have had meager training; yet they have not only acquired a detailed knowledge of their vocation but have advanced by their own efforts, the thought and trend of the entire profession.
Circumstances do not permit most dentists to acquire all the knowledge that leaders in the profession are developing.
What, with the struggle for economic existence and the necessity for social contacts, there is little time left for dentists to establish their own procedure for a post graduate course in dentistry.
How can dentists acquire new methods, and the newer knowledge of scientific accomplishments and their application? Dental periodicals and society meetings help. They give suggestions and demonstrations and cover the surface, but are too brief and inadequate to materially add to the dentists’ accomplishments.
We need something more concrete, more definite, and detailed; something that will prescribe a given course to pursue.
The need for a post-graduate in scientific phases of dentistry is acute. Modifications and elaborations of existing mechanical methods are easily acquired, but lack of a basic understanding in many sciences forbids acquisition and application of new procedures.
The scientific and mechanical phases of dentistry are not wholly compatible because of a lack of understanding of the former.
Dentists appreciate the value of the application of preventive and systemic measures for the control of dental disease but they are too busy with keeping abreast of subjects they understand to delve into the deep mysteries of the “ologies.”
There are three ways in which the practitioner may acquire scientific developments in the dental field; graduate studies in Universities, correspondence education and self education. The first is impractical on a large scale for the reason that too much time must be taken from active practice. The second, if well planned, is effective but lacks supervision and authority. The third cannot be accomplished by many because of a general lack of understanding.
Of the three methods of approach for advanced learning, correspondence study, though not ideal, is probably the most practical. Such a course should be sufficiently extended to include an elementary review as well as additions and advancements. It should be so planned as to be practical and should carry with it some degree or satisfactory recognition for the ambition and work displayed.
Such a plan, however, is not at present available, and much careful planning will have to be done before it is feasible. The necessity is present. It is hoped that educational institutions will begin before long to recognize their responsibility in the matter and give this needed consideration to the general practitioner.