Adapting to virtual training during a pandemic

virtual trainingJo Banks looks at how Denplan Academy is adapting to virtual training, continuing to deliver team training and networking in the profession, as well as launching a new online growth programme for practices this month.

Delivering online training has become the ‘new normal’ for our Denplan Academy team for more than six months now.

While we are back out in dental practices face-to-face where it is safe to do so, practices are continuing to embrace virtual training between busy appointment books under new measures.

As soon as lockdown happened, my team got together really quickly and adapted all our training to be virtual. It was a steep learning curve, but we were up and running within a few weeks.

For many practice teams, lockdown was a unique opportunity to catch up on training.

Once initial continuing professional development (CPD) was completed, our Denplan Academy had a huge surge in practices wanting us to facilitate training to connect and develop their own practice teams.

After participating in some initial industry webinars, Denplan started to facilitate online tailor-made virtual training within members’ own practice teams.

The Red House Dental Practice in Malton in north Yorkshire was one of those. Principal dentist Nitin Prasad opted to split his training into two separate sessions.

‘It has been great that Denplan has been able to embrace and offer online training this year instead. Our first session was during “lockdown” in May. The technology was rather new to a lot of the team. However, they were all able to log on in-practice or via their devices at home.

‘As always, we were able to pick our topics and it gave the team a chance to virtually meet after some weeks apart,’ Nitin said. As COVID-19 restrictions continued, they opted for the second session to be online too, covering stress management and record keeping.

He continued: ‘The Denplan training team have kept abreast of the altering landscape. They have tailored the training to the current guidance and the impact of COVID-19 on us as professionals and personally too.

‘While we look forward to being able to invite them over to the practice again as soon as we can, for the moment, the online platform for tailor-made virtual training is one that is easy to set up. It causes minimal disruptions to our clinical workflow. Most importantly, it gives the team a chance to share learning and CPD in an interactive virtual way.’

Virtual networking across the profession

In recent months, Denplan has also set up ‘coffee mornings’, connecting practice managers from different areas discussing topics such as running teams, returning from furlough and other topical

Both our practice manager and receptionist sessions proved very popular.

As we couldn’t do our usual face-to-face practice manager forums, we led the way in connecting the profession online through these coffee morning sessions, as many felt very isolated in difficult times.

We did it by region and focused on topics the profession was addressing with our business development consultants. They proved hugely popular sessions.

As time moves on, we are noticing a real shift in how practices are adapting to the virtual training.

It has become the new norm for us as facilitators. It’s interesting to see a similar shift for participants.

From initial resistance to speak online, we are now finding that participants are much more comfortable with the IT systems, and also speaking up in virtual sessions.

Technology is developing all the time. By making interactive whiteboards and breakout rooms possible, this improves the experience for both us trainers and attendees.

Growth training packages

This month, Denplan Academy is launching a new growth training package to member practices. Many have requested support to increase their Denplan patient numbers and offerings.

Others have completed CPD requirements in lockdown. Members are gaining a new perspective as they reopen, asking for support to grow and retain patients.

Based on vast experience, a training package has now been launched with five different offerings, including product webinars, team training sessions, follow-up sessions with practice managers and receptionists, as well as tools on how to best retain your patients.

This will run online, in-house where safe to do so or as a combination.

We are proud to have been able to offer a continuous service to our member practices throughout lockdown. While we are now back out there delivering face-to-face training in accordance with the guidelines, virtual training is here to stay.

It has given the Denplan Academy another vehicle to reach more dental practices and support them.

For more information about Denplan Academy online training, visit

This article first appeared in Dentistry magazine. You can read the latest issue of Dentistry magazine here.

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