A full book of patients every day. That's the way it used to be in Australian capital cities and suburbs, but sadly, those days are disappearing. Now there are too many providers chasing too few patients and dentists are working out of multiple urban locations, struggling to fill their books and make ends meet.
Dr Alison Hughes, a dentist and co-founder of Pacific Smiles Group, explains how the organisation that she and Dr Alex Abrahams created a decade ago, is now providing a professionally stimulating and financially rewarding alternative.
"Dentists who want to continue to live in or near the capital cities of Australia can now do so without compromising their financial earning capacity by competing in over-serviced urban markets," Dr Hughes said.
Pacific Smiles Group is unlike most dental corporates as it is a developer and manager of quality dental centres in population hubs located between 1 and 3 hours from the capital cities of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Dentists engage Pacific Smiles Group as their serviced-facility provider and are provided with a true walk-in-walk-out clinical practice where the dentist can devote 100% of their time to clinical dentistry while Pacific Smiles Group does everything else.
"Pacific Smiles Group has enjoyed ten years of growth and success and today some 215 dentists practice from the fully serviced dental centres we own and operate. These dentists enjoy the benefits of their own clinical practice operating under their own ABN, but without the need to invest in the facilities or manage them. The situation is so favourable that once dentists have experienced the quality, the service and the satisfaction of a full appointment book, many migrate from part time to full time practice on an ongoing basis."
Over the last ten years, Pacific Smiles Group has very deliberately developed its network of dental centres in growth areas just outside capital cities on the East Coast of Australia. This was partly a reflection of the organisation's regional roots, having been founded (and still headquartered) in the NSW Hunter Valley, but it was also driven by the need in those areas for community access to reliable and consistent quality dental services.
"The location of most of our centres makes them an ideal venue for city-based dentists to practice a couple of days a week to produce a superior income to the alternative of working a whole week in the city. Dentists who've been doing this for some time report a great sense of personal and professional satisfaction from living in the city or suburbs, but practising, at least for part of the week, in a stimulating and professional environment with strong patient flow. Some of them have enjoyed it so much that they have made the tree-change or sea-change to the locations they enjoy so much, but equally many enjoy the combination of city living and country practice."
Right now, with the challenges facing many city dentists, Pacific Smiles Group has been inundated with enquiries from dentists seeking to secure a few days a week at their preferred Centre.
"We have never seen such a high enquiry rate," Dr Hughes said. "Dentists with broad clinical experience and a great chairside manner, do particularly well."
Pacific Smiles Group continues to develop about five new Dental Centres per year in the regional hubs around the capital cities of the East Coast. By doing this, Pacific Smiles Group is facilitating great opportunities for dentists and excellent services to patients.