Is Live CE Dead?


Why is live CE dead? Let me count the ways that I have heard over the past couple of years:

• Online CE is cheaper.
• Online CE is easier to watch when it’s convenient.
• It’s too big a hassle to travel to a CE location.
• Either my staff will complain if we close the practice or they will complain if I make them go with me.
• I will be so wiped out after traveling that I won’t be at my best the first morning.
• I will lose my focus by the end of the first day and probably skip some of the sessions anyway.
• Most CE is terrible and not worth all the time, money, and trouble.

And the reasons go on, and on, and on.

While it is hard to dispute the first couple of items on the above list, let me share a comment I have NEVER heard before:

“Wow, that online CE course rocked my world! It really changed the way I practice forever. I will never forget the amazing time I had in front of my laptop while the TV was running in the background. It was the time of my life!!!”

The reason I have never heard that uttered is because nobody has ever said it!
Sure, I get it. We all have busy lives and many responsibilities. And, yes, it seems like sacrificing the yearly CE trip or trips will solve problems and kill two birds with one stone.

1. You save money
2. You save time

It seems so simple, but I’m going to try to convince you that if you have fallen into the trap of neglecting live CE in lieu of online or self-study courses, you are actually in opposition to your stated goals.

Let’s take the first one.

You think you are saving money. This is the classic example of someone who ‘steps over the dollars to pick up the pennies.’ Yes, you are saving front end money by circumventing the tuition, hotels, food, and entertainment expenses. But where you are losing BIG MONEY in the long term is in missed opportunity cost. I am of the belief that we as a profession are on the verge of losing one of the great institutions of our age, great live CE, because we don’t consider the bigger picture.

Yes, there are up front costs. However, many times if not every time you invest time and money in yourself or your practice, those costs will come back to you many times over. Also, as a dentist who has attended thousands of hours of live CE and also occasionally uses online resources, I can attest that I would have never placed an implant or bonded a bracket if I hadn’t physically gone to a course where I could interact with both my peers and the teachers to gain enough confidence to add those great procedures to my repertoire.

Those 2 advanced services regularly add 6 figures to my yearly numbers and I simply could not have learned them without attending a live event.

What about practice management? I also love this particular area of CE. I remember attending a course in Florida 20 years ago that inspired me to be the best I could be. I was attending with my best friend from dental school and he got inspired, too. It has been a fun ride these past 20 years as we have attended many more practice management courses together and regularly get together to talk about the things that are going on in our practices.

I don’t think either of us would have ever had that fire in our bellies to really succeed if we hadn’t been at that motivational lecture those 20 years ago.

The second wrong assumption is that you save time by not attending live events. I know that it seems like giving up a weekend that you could spend with your family or doing something that you personally enjoy away from dentistry is counterproductive. In the short term, I suppose it is.

Consider this, however. If you learn how to shave 30 minutes off the time it takes you to do a root canal at one of these live events and you do a lot of root canals, just imagine the SAVED TIME that adds up as the years tick away. Maybe you could take a clinical efficiency course where you learn to do the same amount of production in 25% less time. You could cut back each week by a half day or a whole day. Just think how much MORE TIME you could then spend with your family.

So, there. Consider those weak points debunked.

Is there a place for online CE. Yes, of course. I myself have both taken and taught online CE in the past year. It is a forum that is very convenient and, honestly, it is much easier to get a virtual classroom full than a ballroom at a hotel in a big city. I’ve done both and will continue to do both.
But, I want to stand up and say that the value of live CE cannot be replaced by an online version.

There’s just too much that makes up the overall experience that can’t be replaced.

Let me name a few of those benefits just in case you have begun to forget them:

• Live interaction with the teacher
• Interaction with your friends or peers at the meeting
• Discussions at the breaks. Lots of the world’s problems get solved here.
• Live questions with vendors for new products or services.
• Exposure to new products, services, and procedures that you can’t see sitting in your office.
• Confidence to actually implement a new idea or service.
• Team bonding if you bring your team. Many BIG team drama issues have been worked out at seminars away from the daily grind.
• Memories cemented with fun, new experiences.

Those are but a few of the wonderful things that happen when you take the plunge and commit to supporting live CE events.

Let me close by saying that, NO, live CE is not dead. Some would say it’s not even dying as there are a bunch of great CE venues out there where you can still go and have those amazing experiences, but it certainly is in decline. Any honest seminar promoter out there would tell you that.

It is my hope that you make the decision to strike out and attend at least one live CE event this year and every year from now until you retire. Our entire profession will be the better for it.

About the author, Chris

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