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The Dental “Vocabulary”

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This is not the vocabulary you may think at first glance , this is the vocabulary of your dental experience.
I will explain it better ; when studying how top people were playing chess they don’t work like “mathematical minds” . Their reasoning is very different .
At first , researchers noticed that chess masters (top players) had a superior ability to remember without any effort the position of all the pieces on the game , other players ,like A players (the rank below masters) weren’t so effective doing so .
We may argue that it was an innate ability and a superior short term memory but it wasn’t.
Cause when both groups were tested with pieces put randomly in the game, without a logical pattern , their ability was dropping down to zero .
Something else was at work .
Chess masters had much more highly developed long term chess memories , built playing thousands and thousands of games; and these memories take the form of subconsciously remembered pattern .
Researchers call these patterns with a term : vocabularies.
On average a class A player has a vocabulary of around 2000 patterns , while a master player has up to 50.000.
What the mind of a master players does is : Have I seen this one before?In what context ?what worked before?
I got struck by the application of this concept in our field .
We overemphasize in our medical education the “ rationality “ ,the “protocol” and the “education” and where we study…thinking that getting your degree at the Harvard University may be the straight road for clinical excellence.

We build new dentists that with their “protocols” and “education” think they have the key to manage properly complex dental treatments.
It’s not a mystery that the famous Dunning Krueger effect is exactly on this …the famous cognitive bias according to which people with limited competence in a domain overestimate their abilities .
Coming out from the “polished world of academia “ world seems clear , with clear rules .
It isn’t…..and your “vocabulary “ is too poor to manage the complexity you have to face .

Education is not enough .
In these days I saw a small complication on a case made by a very talented colleague who also attended twice my vertical course . During the course I spent some time talking about how to avoid that complication …yet he did the mistake.Why? Cause he never faced that complication before so , during my teaching , his mind was not really focused.
For him, I was speaking about a black swan , a so rare event , never seen before . Now , after facing the complication , his mind is completely open to learn .
I realized that vocabulary is something we have to build on our skin .
I also realized that learning itself is related to our experience…people with different experience can go back home after a course with different things.
In the past I was thinking that a good teacher was able to make people avoid mistakes. I tried hard to get that . I could not.
The aim of a good teacher is to accelerate the learning when the student faces the situation .
A student alone has to recognize the pattern …this needs time ; a student alone has to recognize the features of the pattern ..this needs time ; a student alone has to understand why that pattern arose and what was the solution ..this needs time and multiple attempts.
A student with a good teacher will move across the pattern faster , with less wrong attempts ,gaining a bigger “ vocabulary “ in a shorter amount of time.

The expert is not coming from a podium . The true mark of a professional is the rich “vocabulary “ of patterns developed through years of practical experience.
To recognize that to add every single word to your vocabulary you have to face a new situation with an unseen problem.This is part of the game you have to play and accept if you wanna build your competence .
Through years Vocabulary will become a sort of instinct ….that gut feeling that will drive your hands in tough moments.

Beyond education and your teachers the biggest skill you have to acquire is to accept new challenges and failures as the greatest teachers and chances for improving yourself.

Today , too often , nobody want to fail cause is scared by the shame ; is scared by others blaming him , is scared of losing his credibility ; is scared cause he feels to be the only one failing in a world where everybody are always successful and show their best.

Yet this is the perfect recipe for mediocrity.

Like the chinese Yin and Yang , like the day and the night , failures and expertise are two faces of the same medal .

If you want the latter , you have to go through the former one. Next Journey to increase your vocabulary on Vertical preaprations is in Italy, 3 days LIVE course with strict focus on hands on and real world dentistry!

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