Embracing Digital Technology

On day one of the 2019 Annual Pankey Meeting, Dr. Gary Severance and Angela Severance will explore how digital technology continues to expand the opportunities dental professionals have to know their work and to provide better dentistry and ultimately better care.  Preliminary to this presentation, we share this quote with you.

“Be not the first to try the new or the last to leave the old aside.”

This is a statement from Dr. L.D. Pankey in his 1985 interview with the International College of Dentists. As a well-read and literary man, Dr. Pankey was familiar with Alexander Pope, an 18th-century English poet who is best known for his satirical verse and translation of Homer. Because Pope is the second-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (after Shakespeare), it is highly likely Dr. Pankey was inspired by the following famous couplet from Pope’s Essay on Criticism.

Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.

We offer this conjecture, because Pope’s couplet is often used across the professions in the context of evaluating and adapting to technological change.

Pushing Forward Mindfully

Dr. Pankey was on the forefront of the technological and methodological changes that rapidly occurred in dentistry during the 1950s and onward. He was internally driven to be and do his best for his patients and profession. He urged dentists to “know your work” to provide better dentistry and ultimately better care.

Digital technology in dentistry has advanced to address special needs, just as Dr. Pankey advanced in his systems of thought and practice to address special needs. He did this mindfully.

His genius, in concert with those of Dr. Arvin Mann and Dr. Clyde Schuyler, had produced the “P.M.S. Technic.” They had selected the best of the procedures that had been developed by outstanding practitioners in their special fields and assembled them into a system that functioned well for addressing full mouth rehabilitation. They applied their intelligence to “try” new techniques and new materials. They gained knowledge through carefully doing their best for patient, after patient. They then stepped out to share what worked successfully for them. Along the way, Dr. Pankey was mindfully developing his philosophy of practice. He intentionally set out to learn from many great minds, and the composite of principles he lived by and generously shared through his lectures, publications, and ceaseless conversations with other dentists have rippled into our lives today.

Learn, Converse, Lead with Confidence

As a community, you can share your knowledge, immerse in conversation, and lead with confidence. The L.D. Pankey Institute from its beginning was a radical departure from dental school settings of the day. The Institute pioneered a training clinic with overhead cameras and closed-circuit TV, anatomical simulators (which had heretofore only been developed for training in medical schools), and it’s characteristic “hands on” learning process. The Institute’s founding leaders conceived of novel ways to fulfill their goals. But—building the unique learning environment and learning process involved tens of thousands of hours of research, thought, and conversation. A group of “top” minds in dentistry worked together to close the gap between what was known (the science) and what was practiced.  Adaptation to emerging digital technology is no different.

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