Dental study clubs have been around for a long time. G.V Black was asked to mentor one of the first gold foil study clubs in Minneapolis, Minnesota over one hundred years ago. This type of dental learning has continued to this day. Some dentists have meetings and lectures and call them study clubs but in the historical definition of the term study club means dentists working on patients under the supervision of a senior mentor on an ongoing basis. It is an ongoing experience usually meeting numerous times during the year and is not simply a continuing dental education course.
A minimum of eight and a maximum of twelve members is usually ideal. Fewer than eight may be financially difficult and more than twelve may become non productive with the mentor not being able to spend enough time with each member.
Rather than simply listening to a lecture study club members practice dentistry on patients in a relaxed setting without the normal stressors of a busy dental practice. There are no distractions other than the operation being performed. The goal is to produce the finest rubber dam application, preparation, impression, and finished restoration as is possible on that day by that operator. It is a time to challenge yourself and refine your skills. Also a longer term goal is with the help of the mentor improve his or her clinical skills over the long term. The mentor will recognize the member’s weaknesses and help strengthen them to the full potential of that dentist. The mentor may sit down and help demonstrate for the member how to accomplish a certain procedure, for example rubber dam application, instrument sharpening, chair position, patient position, handpiece control, and more. Many of these things of course are not possible with simply a lecture format or even a one or two day hands-on or participation course.
Another benefit of an operating study club is the camaraderie that develops among members and respect and friendship with the mentor. As dentists sometimes we work alone without day to day interaction with other dentists and study club changes that. Working together each month, seeing each other’s preparations and seatings, being critiqued by the mentor, and socializing usually following the operations during lunch or dinner, all contribute to closer relationships among the members and their mentor. In addition often an annual event is planned with spouses.
As time goes on a certain self confidence appears as the member sees his own improvement and wants to continue the process. This is reflected in the member’s practice and the skills learned with direct or cast gold are transferred not only to the castings and foils done during regular practice time but also other disciplines of dentistry as well.
Study club is not for everyone. There is a large time and financial commitment depending upon the various expenses and number of operating meetings scheduled. If you do join an operating study club there is no question that at least one thing will happen – you will become a more refined clinical dentist with improved skills. The degree to which that happens depends mostly on you and – similar to many other things in life – the effort that you put into it.
One of the ways to become involved is to contact the Academy of Richard V. Tucker Study Clubs, a worldwide association of over 50 cast gold study clubs. A rapidly expanding organization, the academy’s mission is to teach excellence and professionalism in dentistry and particularly with cast gold. Contact the study club closest to you or form a new one.
Bruce W. Small
Tucker sturdy club #32
Reason for membership in the Academy of R.V. Tucker Study Clubs
At present membership in the Academy of R.V. Tucker Study Clubs is available only to members of study clubs affiliated with the Tucker Academy. It is in these study clubs that members learn the intricacies of the Tucker technique in all its permutations under the guiding eye of a mentor. The technique can also be learned through the R.V. Tucker Institute in Seattle, which is supported by the Academy and has been presenting one week courses since 1995.
One could ask what is the purpose of the Tucker Academy? The answer would be the same as with other great dental academies. To foster professional development through education, and provide an environment conducive to the development of relationships between like-minded professionals.
The Academy meets once a year hosted by one or two of its study clubs. The educational side of the meeting consists of two parts. The George Ellsperman lecture is given annually, typically by a clinician selected by the host club. The clubs have done a remarkable job of presenting speakers of renown, and the list of past presenters is beginning to look like the who’s who of modern dentistry.
The clinical session is the second main component of the meeting. Some people argue this is the main park of the meeting. In the clinic, members operate in front of their peers in a three to four hour session. This seems to create an unspoken bond between members as well as a platform for further discussion of the technique.
Through the social activities of the annual meeting friendships develop among dedicated clinicians from all over North America and Europe. These friendships enrich our lives in and outside of dentistry.
Although it is a young academy it is one I am very proud to be a member of.
The AOD web site would welcome listing any study club associated with the AOD, Academy, or any of its members. Please contact Dr. Susanne Grennell at PO Box 153 Billings, NY 12510
Also refer to CODE and ADEA for more information on Operative Departments.