This Course Carries 1 unstructured CPD hour per session as defined by the
As clinicians we do not include ourselves as our fundamental resource. Even if we come to this, what do we know about how to nurture and grow this resource? What skill have I in communicating to people the understanding of the limitations and the difficulties and risks of clinical work? What skill is there that I can use to communicate this so they can ‘get it’?
All of these issues account for the larger part of working at clinical dentistry but get the least attention. The area is so big and all consuming that it must be considered as an educational gap (chasm). But how do we fill that gap?
It is from this understanding that we get the rationale for Peer Support Groups for Dentists. We might summarise this rationale as follows:
Rationale: To supply the missing aspects of dental education in human behaviour and communication and to promote and nurture human fellowship among the individuals providing this professional care and the introduction of this aspect of care to those we serve.
The Psychotherapeutic Profession, understanding the enormous burden on individual practitioners and the value of support for individual health and wellbeing, makes peer support (called supervision) a requirement for its therapists and counsellors to practice. Our noble profession, in valuing the health and wellbeing of its members, should consider moving along these lines as well.
The Principles of Peer Support groups.
There are several key principles that underpin the peer support group. These principles and their value speak for themselves.
- The first is Belonging. The creation of a family in fellowship where each is welcomed.
- The second is Connection. The group models human contact and the shared experience of being in practice. The experience of another or others creates fellowship, understanding and learning.
- The third is Group power. This refer to the principle of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts and is experienced as strong support and fellowship. Community as opposed to isolation and death (? current model)
These principles are often seen in societal structures but in medicine and dentistry tend to revolve around the ‘science’ or objectivity of the profession. Fellowships elevate people to higher and ‘special’ levels of the profession as though fellowship is only merited by extra academic achievement. Fellowship or collegiality is not for the ordinary clinical dentist but for the academic elite. Even there its about elevation beyond the ‘ordinary’ and away from the natural humanness of humanity to a scientific academic stature. Fellowship and collegiality belong to the essential humanity of us all as humans first and foremost.
This is because science and objectivity come from art and subjectivity. Life is experienced as subjective by definition and all human beings are, by definition, subjective. We cannot avoid this. The objective is a heroic effort by subjective beings to find a more accurate view and understanding but must always come from subjectivity.
Therefore, we must work with our fundamental subjectivity and understand it with care and compassion to better support our attempts at objectivity.
Beyond academic learning (learning based in the mind) there are many other ways of learning. In a profession like dentistry, we learn by doing. This is experiential learning. But we must not confine our experiential learning to the doing of procedures. We need to apply our experiential learning to our relationship with patients and communication.
So what do we hope to foster in a group?
- Curiosity – The essential tool of new information.
- Calm – A place from which to take good action
- Confidence – In self and others
- Compassion – for self and others
- Courage (moral)
Overall the benefits are:
- Creation of better more rounded clinicians
- Creation of calmer clinicians
- Creation of healthier/wealthier clinician
- Creation of clinicians who achieve the best results
- Creation of clinicians who are in harmony with patients and staff.