Friday, March 02, 2012

10,000 HOURS

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book "Outliers", puts forward a well researched observation regarding the topic of skill and mastery.  He states that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of concentrated activity to become a master or expert.  He gives examples of concert pianists, sports figures, computer programmers and even The Beatles, who spent many a weekend performing and refining their music and performance skills in clubs well before becoming known to the wider world.  How long is 10,000 hours?  Ten thousand hours comes to working 8 hours a day 5 days a week for at least 5 years.

How does this apply to dentistry?  The art and science of the dental profession certainly falls within the definition of something that is difficult and complex, not only intellectually in diagnosis, knowledge and assessment, but the use of physically demanding and precise surgical techniques.  While there is a certain amount of innate talent and certainly compassion involved, the true mastery takes a long time to develop.

In Pediatric Dentistry, it pretty much takes at least that long.  A new graduate knows a lot, but has not yet mastered the art of the profession.  In fact, in dentistry, we call it dental "practice" because you are really never done learning and improving.

I am humbled that, although I have gone well past the magic number of hours, I still am refining, learning, and relearning how to practice with a certain degree of mastery.  In fact, I think the rule for dealing with children (and their parents) on a daily basis should be closer to 20,000 hours, or maybe a lifetime!

So, if a dentist with many years of experience takes a look and says he is concerned or offers an opinion, you might be well advised to listen.

"Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell


Chris Dixon, DDS said...

Absoultely! Couldn't agree with you more. This book has been on my list of must have's.

I keep hoping once I get my Pedo certificate the opportunity will arise to partner up with someone who has become a master and who is willing to mentor. Some of the best faculty I have are the providers who have been in private practice for more than 20 years.

fogászat said...

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Miami Dentist said...

Malcom Gladwell is one of my favorite authors and Outliers was an excellent book. I do believe there is some truth to the 10,000 hours. But as he implies, it's not necessarily WHAT you know but WHO you know! The Bill Gates story really demonstrates this.

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

I'm sorry Miami Dentist, I accidentally deleted your comment on DAT scores. Here is the post:

I agree with Anonymous... Ashish, this is one of the best dental blogs on the internet and is pretty renowned. I've never heard of your website though, and I do find it interesting that you came HERE to promote your own blog after you said it was "silly." Go figure.

Mommy dentist said...

"Outliers" is a phenomenon. I just used it to discuss it's effects on mothers choosing when to enter their children in school. Interesting how widespread the topics can be covered in one book.

ClassyFlossy said...

Dr. Dean,

Since you're talking about time here, I think my question would be appropriate for this section. I am at the moment considering studying either medicine or dentistry. I prefer dentistry because of the better work/life balance and better lifestyle that is associated with it. Now I have become very interested in Oral and maxillofacial surgery, but I don't know too much about the lifestyle that this specialization has. I mean do max facs have the same work/ life balance and long hours of other surgeons? And do you think it is a worthwhile investment since you'll fall behind finacially and it's such a big time investment?

Thanks in advance

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Oral surgery is one of the most competitive specialties. One reason is that they take only a very few into each program per year, sometimes only one per school. Secondly, it is a very complex surgical specialty dealing with everything from the daily wisdom tooth removals to tumors, facial reconstructions for orthodontics and after accidents, and also dealing with cancer. Some oral surgeons were once physicians who chose to return to dental school just so they can do oral surgery. So you have to know a lot of anatomy and medicine. It is along the lines of being an ear nose and throat doctor, or a plastic surgeon.

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Oh, in addition, being an oral surgeon, the residency is usually three years minimum and most typically 5 years after dental school. It is the longest residency. Typically those 5 years you also, in some programs, get an MD degree. Oral surgeons do quite well financially to make up for all those years of study.