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Episode #498: The Global Diagnosis Education Story, with Dr. Bill Robbins, Dr. Jim Otten & Dr. Brian Schroder

the best practices show podcast Nov 14, 2022

Global Diagnosis Education is more than a virtual study club. And today, Kirk Behrendt brings back three of his favorite dentists, Dr. Bill Robbins, Dr. Jim Otten, and Dr. Brian Schroder, to talk about the genesis of Global Diagnosis Education, their vision behind it, and why you should become a member today. If you're looking for community, mentorship, and a safe space to learn and fail, GDE is the place for you! To learn more about GDE and how to join, listen to Episode 498 of The Best Practices Show!

Episode Resources:

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Global Diagnosis Education Study Club: https://www.actdental.com/offers/KocrSnLA/checkout

Global Diagnosis by Dr. J. William Robbins and Dr. Jeffrey S. Rouse: https://www.quintessence-publishing.com/ita/en/product/global-diagnosis

Main Takeaways:

Global Diagnosis Education will help you implement what you've learned.

Being a part of this study club will help you become a better teacher.

GDE provides a nonjudgmental, secure place for learners.

You will become willing to fail in this safe environment.

Don't wait — join the GDE study club today!


“This started years ago over a couple of margaritas, I think. All the best ideas happen over alcohol and wine, or whatever. But it turned out well. And I had the conversation — I had been teaching Global Diagnosis at other places, marginally — not as well as [Dr. Robbins] does it. But I always loved the concept because it’s simplifying the complex. And great thinkers do that. They simplify the complex. And for dentists, I saw them struggling with how to put things together and how to organize their thought process in dentistry. I said, ‘We’ve got to take this out somehow and we’ve got to do something different. What about if we took it online?’ And like you said, two years later, then the pandemic hit. We had the opportunity to do it. Well, why wouldn't we do this?” (3:41—4:30) -Dr. Otten

“The object and the vision of Global Diagnosis is to take the learning that people have accumulated, fluid intelligence that they’ve had accumulating over their professional career, and be able to apply it and create a platform which we surprisingly found became rather intimate because of the sharing part of it, but be able to present and think through and provide a mentorship, essentially, over a platform. And I think that consistency and that connection that we maintain is really what's been so rewarding for us and for the people who participate.” (4:32—5:13) -Dr. Otten

“The two words that I think exemplifies what Jim and I are trying to do is systematic and simplicity. It’s the two S’s. And I think we’ve done a reasonably good job of making that happen.” (10:55—11:08) -Dr. Robbins

“The Global Diagnosis System wasn't created by me — it’s Jeff Rouse and I. And so, Jeff gets equal credit. Without him, this would have never occurred. The genesis of the Global Diagnosis System was, essentially, many years ago when I first heard Kois and Spear start talking about facially generated diagnosis. So, all of the credit goes to them. Because back in those days, we were treatment planning complex patients on an articulator, managing centric relation from condylar position forward. Kois and Spear came along and said condylar position is important. However, we shouldn't be treatment planning from condylar position forward. We should be treatment planning in the face from incisal edges, back. That was a radical idea 40 years ago, and it took a while to catch on.” (11:11—11:55) -Dr. Robbins

“I was an early adopter of facially generated diagnosis. Back in those days, the emphasis from Kois and Spear was incisal edge position. And as Jeff and I started working with facially generated diagnosis, we felt like there should be an equal emphasis on gingival levels. And so, that's really the emphasis of the Global Diagnosis System, is if the gingival levels are wrong, why is that. So, Global Diagnosis was never meant to take the place of facially generated diagnosis. It is absolutely additive to it and adds to what Kois and Spear already created.” (12:01—12:33) -Dr. Robbins

“I think the beauty of it is that you don't have to have a treatment map that looks like the subway system in New York to implement it. So, that was what [Dr. Robbins] did, is [he] took that and coalesced it into something that was meaningful and something that you could sit chairside and go, ‘Okay, I need to look at these five things. I need to think about what that means in terms of diagnosis. And then, I can put all the underpinning to it. I can put all the details into it.’ And then, what we did was, in the past couple of years, we started taking it a little bit further, putting in the joint based occlusion and airway, because those are foundational now as well. So, we look at Global Diagnosis, that's the interdisciplinary restorative piece, and add the foundational piece to it as well. And now, we’re mixing in a little behavior too. Because it doesn't make a darn bit of difference if you can't put it in play.” (12:35—13:25) -Dr. Otten

“We’ve certainly come to realize that we’re not trying to teach students. We’re trying to teach other teachers. We’re trying to create not students, but other teachers. And we have both found great joy in doing that. And certainly, a double handful of people that are members of our community have bubbled up to the top over the last two-and-a-half years. And we have met some amazing men and women of dentistry that are generations younger than us that have so much more potential. So, it was pretty obvious that we didn't have to carry this on our backs. There was no reason for us to carry this on our backs, completely. Initially, it was that way. And it has much evolved into, now, bringing the community in and making the community the teacher rather than just Jim and I.” (14:23—15:09) -Dr. Robbins

“The thing that we know, like Bill said, is that teaching the teachers for the future, developing leaders for the future, is really where it’s at.” (15:41—15:49) -Dr. Otten

“Everything we do is borrowed from someone else, and we’re just building it and assimilating it and trying to coalesce the idea. But we notice that people just didn't implement at a high level. And I experienced that myself. At Pankey, I learned really great stuff. I'd get all fired up. And then, I'd come back, and I'd go back into my default behavior because it’s so easy to do. And even though there were study clubs and things like that, you didn't see more than — and the statistics bear this out — about 20%, 25% of people that go to those institutions actually implement a significant amount of their learning. Why is that? Well, there's not that ongoing support, the ongoing commitment that a mentor will take to make sure that, on a day-to-day basis, they can write us an email and say, ‘Hey, I've got this going on. What do you think?’ And somebody can answer it and say, ‘Let's talk about this,’ and start a thread, or start a thread in the community.” (16:17—17:05) -Dr. Otten

“I think that one of the things that they’ve done amazingly well is provide a nonjudgmental, secure platform or place for people to step forward and put their stuff out there. I mean, it takes a great deal of courage for people to be willing to show their stuff, so to speak. And if you don't feel secure in doing that, if you don't feel as though it’s going to be received really, really well, then as a general rule, you don't do it, which may be the implementation part that Jim’s talking about. But I think it’s really critical to know that this group is very much dedicated to support and encouragement and nurturing and growth, as opposed to judgment of what you're doing.” (17:07—17:53) -Dr. Schroder

“The cool thing about it is that we learn from each other all the time. There's not one time I've heard [Dr. Robbins] speak, even though I've heard him do the same lecture, essentially, a couple of times, that I don't learn something new. I hear it differently. And I think that's really what's important to anyone that's in the learning process, that you may think you're hearing the same thing, but you hear it differently at different stages of your development in your career and your growth. To that young dentist that's out there, as Bill said, you have to get involved. You have to get engaged.” (22:15—22:44) -Dr. Otten

“Comfort has come up a couple of times in the conversation today, and I think it’s really important for the people that are just entering into restorative dentistry, for the people that are just getting involved in the Global Diagnosis Education platform or study club, I think you absolutely must get outside your comfort zone. You're not going to get any better if you're going to do the same thing every single day, over and over again. So, one of the things that they encourage in the study club is have a willingness to do something different. Have a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. Have a willingness to fail, and then learn from your failures. It’s so incredibly important. And I think one of the things that happens here is that failure is identified, it’s supported, and education comes from it. So, get outside your comfort zone.” (23:39—24:35) -Dr. Schroder

“The other thing that Jim brought in terms of a mantra to the Global Diagnosis Education platform is, don't let perfection get in the way of getting started. You can't wait year after year after year to try to start to implement some of these things. You have to jump in, get your feet wet, and implement.” (27:24—27:45) -Dr. Robbins

“The continuing education platform has evolved, and we’re trying to incorporate ideas and go to places that a lot of people aren't willing to go in terms of talking about failure and how it’s important, how some of the habits that we have get in the way of our progress. And it’s really constrictive being in a practice by yourself, sometimes, or with one other dentist. You can tell yourself some stories that can really get yourself in trouble, and we talk about that. And safety is the key word for us. And we realized after a few months of implementation that we may be requiring people to try to do too much, and they felt intimidated by bringing things to the platform. I even had conversations last night where people said, ‘Well, I'd like to show this, but I don't think I'm ready.’ And I said, ‘You're ready! Whatever it is, you're ready.’” (28:23—29:11) -Dr. Otten

“If you understand the global piece and you understand where you're going with something, you're not going to make a critical mistake that's going to damage someone or injure someone. You can't hurt somebody with a bite splint. So, make one, and try it, and be conscientious about doing it, and follow through, and see what you learn. Because the only way you're going to learn is to do it. That's how it has to happen.” (29:42—30:10) -Dr. Otten

“This came from one of my mentors from many, many years ago. He was my basketball coach in high school. And he said, ‘None of us are born winners. None of us are born losers. We’re all born choosers.’ And the whole point in that and what Jim and Bill are doing and what we’re talking about today is, we have a choice to make. We all start in the same place. We all started walking across the stage in getting our diploma. But it’s the choices that we make after that that make who we are. And it seems like there's a tendency for people to be listening to a podcast like this and think, ‘Well, I could never.’ And the reality is, we were there. And it’s because of choices and actions that we took that we are here. And you, whoever is listening, can absolutely do the same thing.” (30:33—31:22) -Dr. Schroder

“That made me think about one of my important mentors, who is Dr. Jim Summit, who’s influenced many people in dentistry over the last 40 years. And one of the things he taught me early on is that success is a poor teacher.” (31:45—31:59) -Dr. Robbins

“Enjoy and relish the successes. But you're really going to learn from the situations where it didn't turn out exactly right.” (32:44—32:52) -Dr. Robbins

“To me, it’s a lot about recognizing your failures and realizing that those things are the most important pieces to learn from. We all have successes that we can celebrate. But we have to really think about the difference between excellence and perfection. Excellence is improving, getting just a little bit better every day, and perfection is unachievable. And so, the only thing that's perfect is maybe your presence with another human being. And if you can stay in the moment with another person and stay in that moment to be attentive and to listen and to thoughtfully consider the interaction, that may be as close to perfection as we get.” (32:56—33:43) -Dr. Otten


0:00 Introduction.

1:35 Dr. Robbins’s introduction.

3:27 Dr. Otten’s introduction.

5:14 Dr. Schroder’s introduction.

6:55 Confessions of a Former Single-Tooth Dentist, explained.

10:06 The genesis of the Global Diagnosis system.

13:26 The vision behind their educational platform.

15:09 Teaching teachers for the future.

17:53 How their program promotes students to become teachers.

19:08 Dr. Robbins and Dr. Otten’s partnership.

23:37 Be willing to get outside your comfort zone.

24:36 How CE has evolved.

30:11 We are all born choosers.

31:40 Last thoughts.

Dr. Bill Robbins Bio:

Dr. J. William Robbins, D.D.S., M.A., maintains a full-time private practice and is an Adjunct Clinical Professor in the Department of Comprehensive Dentistry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School. He graduated from the University of Tennessee Dental School in 1973. He completed a rotating internship at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas, and a two-year General Practice Residency at the V.A. Hospital in San Diego, California.

Dr. Robbins has published over 80 articles, abstracts, and chapters on a wide range of dental subjects and has lectured in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He co-authored a textbook, Fundamentals of Operative Dentistry – A Contemporary Approach, which is published by Quintessence, and is in its 4th edition. He recently co-authored a new textbook, Global Diagnosis – A New Vision of Dental Diagnosis and Treatment Planning, which is also published by Quintessence.

Dr. Robbins has won several awards, including the Presidential Teaching Award at the University of Texas Health Science Center, the 2002 Texas Dentist of the Year Award, the 2003 Honorary Thaddeus V. Weclew Fellowship Award from the Academy of General Dentistry, the 2010 Saul Schluger Award given by the Seattle Study Club, the Southwest Academy of Restorative Dentistry 2015 President’s Award, and the 2016 Academy of Operative Dentistry Award of Excellence. He is a diplomat of the American Board of General Dentistry. He is past president of the American Board of General Dentistry, the Academy of Operative Dentistry, the Southwest Academy of Restorative Dentistry, and the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry.  

Dr. Jim Otten Bio:

Dr. James F. Otten is a 1981 graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry. He completed a one-year residency in hospital dentistry with emphasis on advanced restoration of teeth and oral surgery at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kansas. He taught crown and bridge dentistry as an Associate Professor at UMKC before entering private practice in 1982, where he served as Chief of Staff of a large group practice in Fayetteville, Arkansas, before opening his practice in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1984.

Dr. Otten has pursued rigorous post-graduate education since 1986, accumulating thousands of hours in advanced continuing education that he has intentionally applied to his practice in order to develop its personalized care philosophy. He has completed the rigorous curriculum at two prestigious institutions, The Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education, and the Dawson Center for Advanced Dental Education. He lectures nationally and internationally and has recently been asked to join the faculty at the Newport Coast Orofacial Institute in Newport Beach, California.

Dr. Otten has been named a Fellow of The American College of Dentists and is an active member of The American Academy of Restorative Dentistry.

In pursuit of excellence, Dr. Otten has gained a considerable reputation, both regionally and nationally, for his expertise in disorders of the jaw joints, as well as crown and bridge dentistry, implant restorations, complex bite problems, removable and partial dentures, and naturally beautiful esthetic dentistry.

Dr. Brian Schroder Bio:

A Texas native, Dr. Brian Schroder traveled the United States with his Air Force family before settling in San Antonio. He graduated from Central Catholic High School and received his undergraduate degree from St. Mary’s University, where he played collegiate basketball. He continued his education at the University of Texas (UT) Health San Antonio School of Dentistry, graduating in 1982.

After obtaining his DDS degree, Dr. Schroder completed a general practice residency at the Audie Murphy Veterans Administration Hospital and received advanced training in anesthesia, endodontics, oral surgery, periodontics, and prosthodontics. For 12 years, he served as an assistant professor in the Postdoctoral General Practice Program at the UT School of Dentistry in San Antonio while developing his private practice, which has been serving the San Antonio community for over 35 years.

Dr. Schroder provides comprehensive care, including restorative and cosmetic dentistry, conscious sedation, aesthetics, dental implants, and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.

Dr. Schroder and his wife, Evelyn, have three incredible children. His daughter, Adrienne, and sons Brandon and Clayton are all married and have started their families. They have seven awesome grandchildren and number eight is on the way! Fortunately, they all reside in Texas!


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