Spotlight on Peter A. Pate, DDS, MAGD
MasterTrack was a unique experience because of the impressive and comprehensive educational opportunities as well as the meaningful relationships developed within the class. Before embarking on this five-year adventure, my only bond with the other participants was a dental degree. After working to achieve aggressive goals, and spending three days together every quarter for five years, I became almost as close with some of the other MasterTrack members as I had with dental school classmates. We learned new techniques and concepts and we opened our minds to other viewpoints as we discussed them in the relaxed and open environment of our classroom. We watched and helped each other advance as clinicians.
Becoming a Master in the AGD and completing the Georgia MasterTrack (MT) program have benefited my practice and me immensely. The Georgia MT provided an uncommon opportunity to grow as a clinician and to network with colleagues who have an ongoing commitment to providing quality care through continuing education. Meeting once a quarter over a three-day weekend for five years was a big commitment, but I was rarely disappointed! Renowned clinicians from across the country provided the latest information. They observed and encouraged us as we improved our clinical skills in their respective subjects. We enjoyed a wide assortment of lectures and had numerous opportunities to engage in “hands-on” activities across a variety of dental disciplines. Extracting teeth from the jaws of pigs was one of our more entertaining undertakings. One of the biggest challenges for me was taking large-scale assignments back to my practice and actually performing the requirement on patients utilizing the techniques presented by the visiting experts. The final piece of the puzzle was documenting the process in a detailed PowerPoint and then delivering the presentation to our classmates and to the visiting clinicians. The dental wizards offered constructive, and sometimes brutal, feedback on our procedures as well as our presentation skills. Repeating this pattern over a five-year period definitely boosted my confidence in my documentation and presentation skills.
This process was beneficial to me in several ways. Throughout my career, there have been various aspects of general dentistry I have shifted away from and not performed as frequently. This is partly because I tended to focus on what I enjoyed and it became easy to refer procedures I don’t enjoy as much. The MT education brought me up to date in all fields of dentistry. This is particularly true with the parts that I do not enjoy as much. I gained a clearer understanding of all current industry techniques, which has made me a more comprehensive dentist. Although I still may choose to refer certain procedures, I am better positioned to speak to a patient or to a specialist about different treatment scenarios. Thanks to MasterTrack, my technology competence has also improved significantly. For example, I will routinely use photographs now to record patient information and to communicate with labs and specialists. The skills required to create presentations for classmates is easily transferred to patient case presentations or to discussions with team members. All of these skills were gained in a non-threatening, close-knit, study-group style environment.
My current crazy passion outside of dentistry, other than my family of course, is the sport of triathlon. A triathlon is an athletic event comprising three activities: swim, bike and run. As I began to pursue this sport, I was fairly confident in my bike and run abilities. However, I was literally unable to swim! After numerous lessons, looking and feeling like a child wearing fins and floaties, I finally got the hang of it. As I trained and improved in each of the three activities, I challenged myself to enter and complete one of the most grueling endurance events imaginable: an Ironman. This includes a 2.4 mile open-water swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run. After my first Ironman (Lake Placid 2011), I proclaimed that I would never do that again. However, the triathlon bug is contagious. I have completed two more Ironman distance events and numerous half-Ironman events. My wife and 16-year-old son are “over it” but I am not finished yet. Despite the demanding training requirements, the camaraderie with fellow athletes is rewarding, the competition is intense, and I have never been in better shape.
In fact, participating in triathlons is similar to the MasterTrack program. You are in it for the long haul in an effort to make substantial career and life improvements. I strongly encourage other dentists to improve their skills and form lifetime friendships in the next Georgia MasterTrack program.