The Learning Cliff
October 24, 2018
by Krystal Maddox, DDS
Have you ever had that feeling when you walk into a room and stand there for a few seconds and you have not the slightest recollection as to why you walked into that room? But you know, by golly, you know it was something very important and you look around as a minute or two passes. You give up and walk back from whence you came…..then BAM! As soon as you go to sit down it comes rushing back to you why you went into that room. With renewed purpose, you confidently walk back and do exactly what you had intended to do the first time. That scenario has happened to me more than I would like to admit, in some regards, it’s how I would describe being a new practitioner.
At times I am faced with a dental procedure and I have a brain freeze, I know what to do – or have a good idea at least - but I blank. Graduating from dental school is not merely a learning curve, at times it feels more like a learning cliff! It’s challenging trying to make sense of textbook procedures and actual patient presentations with no faculty member looking over my shoulders. When I have those blanking moments, which most of us do even in simple things, instead of fumbling around as all eyes are on me to make a decision, sometimes the simple task of stepping away saying a quick prayer and/or consulting my notes is all the jolt I need to walk back, confident in the skillsets the Lord has blessed me with. The reality is I will never know everything there is about the field of dentistry even if I practice for decades. Nevertheless, if I am confident in what I do know and I am willing to humble myself and continue to learn from others on my team including the hygienists, dental assistants, front desk staff and even the patients themselves! I will be better for it and more importantly so will my patients and co-workers.
Although I know I have so much more to learn, it is a joy to be a part of my patient’s lives and to care for them in such a tangible way. For those seasoned in the field, think back to when you first started your dental career to where you are today or when you took a CE course and started implementing something new you learned. I pray that you have an even deeper appreciation for the skillsets you have acquired and the way you are able to show Christ’s love to your patients. For us who are new practitioners, we will make errors often but learn to laugh at yourself and continue to commit your skillsets as on to the Lord, giving Him your best, which is better than any A+ or Superior you could have gotten in school! Let us all enjoy the journey as we make our way up the cliff!
“Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor.
Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.”
(Proverbs 18:12 & 15, NLT)