The Pankey Institute: Education and a Sense of Community
The Pankey Institute: Education and a Sense of Community
As part of JDT Unbound's occasional series of member interviews, we bring you a recent conversation with The Pankey Institute Executive Director Ricki Braswell, CAE.
Please provide a little bit of background about how your association began and its mission.
More than 40 years ago, a group of dentists sought to honor their colleague, Dr. L.D. Pankey, for his tremendous accomplishments in dentistry. They asked him to lend his name to an institute for advanced continuing dental education. He accepted and The Pankey Institute was born. The first courses of the Institute commenced in September 1972 with the mission of bridging the gap between what is known and what is practiced. Today, we continue to honor Dr. Pankey's passion for comprehensive, patient-centered dentistry by providing visionary dental education that addresses the technical, philosophical, behavioral, and financial habits necessary to build a successful practice and achieve a work/life balance. We deliver education in a supportive community of learners and inspire dental professionals to narrow the gap between what is known and what is practiced. We were, and still remain, the only non-profit dental education foundation dedicated entirely to providing advanced education to dentists, technicians and members of the dental team.
What are five ways in which your association promotes the dental laboratory profession?
The faculty and staff at the Pankey Institute hold the skills and expertise of dental laboratory technicians in high regard. We recognize the unique contributions that a knowledgeable technician brings to the dental team. We believe learning together supports the dynamic between the laboratory technician and the dentist, and ultimately ensures a better, more predictable outcome for the patient. To support and encourage this, we have created special pricing for laboratory technicians for our Essentials curriculum and most of our Focus Courses. In addition, we have developed courses led by dental laboratory technicians to enhance our educational offerings. We encourage a partnership between a dentist and a technician and some informed Pankey dentists have been supportive and lead advocacy within their states which support the legislative initiatives that NADL promotes.
What are three of the biggest challenges facing your members and how is your group helping them to overcome that?
Like most dentists and technicians, members of the Pankey community are facing the financial challenges that the current economy is presenting. In addition, some states are feeling more pressure from large insurance providers. To support the participants of our courses after they leave, we provide assistance through our network of supportive and knowledgeable Visiting Faculty, who are always available to answer questions and provide guidance. In addition, we are developing new resources in the way of an online library, including lectures, videos, and articles, that will serve as guides in between visits to the Institute. We work with dentists and technicians to help them develop a dialog with their client based on understanding and value. Initially this is a difficult conversation, both from the standpoint of a technician to a doctor, and from a doctor to a patient -- however, once people understand value for the services that are rendered, price follows.
What are some of your biggest accomplishments?
The Pankey Institute was the first institute of its kind and remains the only non-profit. Since our inception, we have educated more than 21,000 dentists, dental laboratory technicians, and specialists who now serve millions of patients worldwide. In addition, as a nonprofit foundation we continue to provide care to the underserved in our local communities through Pankey Dental Access Days. Additionally, each and every week, we are pleased to help our course participants rekindle their love and passion for patient-centered care, create better relationships with their in-house team and dental laboratory partner, and determine their personal path to happiness within dentistry.
How are you helping members cope with current market changes?
We always strive to meet the needs of dentistry and our community. This includes offering necessary resources to assist with implementation challenges in between visits to the Institute as well as dynamic courses on the latest trends within dentistry. At Pankey, we believe in facilitating technical, philosophical, behavioral, and financial education, and we will revise and adjust our curriculum to ensure our participants (dentists, technicians, or team members) are receiving the information they need to feel successful. We offer over 25 unique, relevant courses aimed at helping dentists and technicians stay educated about the newest technology so that they can compete in this market.
Can you describe your typical member?
There is one constant with the dentists and technicians who come to Pankey - they are dedicated to being better at what they do and to forming the types of relationships that will support that growth. The demographics of the participants who engage in a course at Pankey are varied. We are seeing an increasing number of dentists attend our courses immediately after completing dental school. We are also proud that a greater number of dental technicians are attending our courses. We are following the trends in dentistry and are pleased to see a greater numbers of women as well. Pankey has an international following and we deliver our world-class education to dentists and technicians who come to our state-of-the-art facility in Key Biscayne, FL from places like Denmark, Australia, Canada, India, Brazil and England, to name a few.
What are the three biggest benefits your association gets from being an NADL component member?
We enjoy serving the dental laboratory community and its educational needs. NADL has provided a platform for us to share our many course offerings through eblast, mail, etc. We have been pleased to partner with The Foundation for Dental Laboratory Technology in the past on educational videos and look forward to future endeavors.
If you had a magic wand and could change one thing about the dental laboratory industry in the state or geographic region your association represents, what would it be?
If I could change one thing it would be that dental technicians would be more recognized within dentistry (and to the patient) for their expertise and unique contributions. At Pankey we are founded on some essential concepts and we believe that education and relationships are key. Many technicians are not recognized for the level of education that they have received and some work with dentists who don't value the relationship. At Pankey we advocate both for the education and the relationship.