The Weekend Read – Progressive Practice by Edward Samson

Sub-Titled – “A Treatise on Dental Economics” this book was first published by J.S. Cottrell in 1931, those were pre-second war days between general strikes and the great depression. I came across it on a client’s bookshelves where it had stood since its receipt as a present from his wife; sadly I don’t think he had read it.

In the foreward of four paragraphs Edward Samson makes several points which are still valid 80 plus years later.

  • “Pity is of no practical value” so he wrote the book to be of practical help to young and not so young practitioners.
  • “Are the newly qualified unfit for practice?” As the author says “in the curriculum of the dental student there is no provision made for the fact that dentistry is to be their livelihood” – little or no change there then.
  • “A combination of business and ethics” – there must be harmony between the highest possible ethical standards and earning a wage.
  • “Survival is not enough” – briefly summed up as ‘standing still is not an option, he or she who is not progressing is in fact going backwards’.

Obviously there are some areas of Dental Practice that have changed significantly since Mr Samson’s day. His views on dental nurses would have a 21st century employment lawyer licking his or her lips in anticipation of the fees to be made at the tribunal. The chapter on equipment is almost funny with the hindsight of 8 decades of advancement in dental technology.

The kernel of every point made in “Progressive Practice” is still true today, I dare say that the word marketing hadn’t come into usage yet the author understood completely the principles involved.

I thoroughly recommend this, Edward Samson was a very wise man, a successful dentist and a prolific & humorous writer. It’s a pity that this isn’t compulsory reading for all new graduates.

To get a copy for yourself? Probably E-Bay, second hand shops and patience is your best bet.


One Response

  1. […] as inheriting the character but not the anatomy from Samson’s (pictured left) 1931 book “Progressive Practice”. All I am going to say much about either book is that, although dated in some ways, much of their […]


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