Dental study clubs are a small group learning and teaching format, usually consisting of eight to 10 people with a specific topic or learning agenda for the day. Most clubs are clinically focused, where the group spends time discussing cases or methodologies. Dr. Sampada Deshpande is a general dentist who graduated from the University of Washington International Dentist Program in 2018, and is one of the founders of The New Dentist Business Club, a study club that explores the business side of dentistry and teaches new dentists and dental students basic business skills related to managing a dental practice.
“Study clubs provide you an opportunity to receive input from different clinicians as well as specific topic discussions,” she says. “Some study clubs require membership fees and have around eight to 10 meetings in a year. Other study clubs accompany continuing education (CE) courses.”
Here, Dr. Deshpande discusses the benefits of getting involved with a study club after graduation, as well as why she decided to start her own.
ASDA Blog: What are the benefits of dental study clubs?
Dr. Sampada Deshpande: In my opinion, the top two benefits are mentorship and camaraderie. Study clubs allow you to meet, network and build relationships with others who have similar interests. You can also share resources with these colleagues and gain mentorship. Many of the experienced dentists you meet are willing to help newer dentists out. Dental study clubs also allow you to continue your education. You will add skillsets to your practice that will help you with patient care and to improve financial goals for your future practice.
Tell us about the study club you started.
In late 2019, I decided that I wanted to buy a practice, but I was unaware of the next steps to take. I spoke to a few of my friends, and we decided to meet regularly to discuss our goals and to share resources that we had. It started with about five or six of us meeting in my apartment, and it slowly became more organized. I started to teach material to those in the club about podcasts I was listening to, courses I was taking and books that I was reading. We decided to make it official and become a 501(c)(6) nonprofit and registered business. We started most of our recruiting through our UW alumni network but now have members from Arizona, California and Boston. Our goal is for every new dentist and dental student to have basic business skills such as reading and understanding a profit and loss statement, basic accounting, fraud detection in your dental offices and marketing strategies. We also invite new dentists and practice owners to speak about mistakes they have made along the way in order to learn from the mistakes of others.
Do you have any advice for new grads on how to get involved with or to start a dental study club?
One great piece of advice I have received from a mentor is for every hour of clinical CE that you take, take an hour related to business. I would also advise dental students to make use of study clubs while you are still a student. Try to figure out what you really love to do clinically. Because I know what I love, I can take CE courses on these topics that matter to me.
The Academy of General Dentistry and the ADA are great places for clinical CEs. Getting involved in organized dentistry is also a great way to meet others. The great thing about being a dental student is that you can approach many study clubs and be able to attend free or as a guest. Take these opportunities to attend these meetings and see what they are like. This may give you a chance to meet a mentor or learn about what you enjoy clinically.
Take the opportunity to meet new people and build new relationships and connections. This will help you build your communication, leadership skills and confidence. All of this will help you with patient interactions.
~Jessica Leonard, Western ’22