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Is graduating and going into a high paying job as a dentist no longer a reality? By 2011 grad Viet Nguyen

Dentistry, The Business of Health

“Today’s dental school graduates can no longer automatically expect a high paying job fresh out of their school experience. Long gone is the time when countless employers would woo each new graduate, whose calendar almost overnight would fill with new patient appointments.

Fast forward from those golden years to 2015 and the stark reality that many final-year dental students must begin to look for jobs well before graduation.

“I’ll just open my own private practice,” many students think, but there are inherent pitfalls here. And when you get that position, you need to make sure you are seeing enough patients to gain the experience you need and make a decent income. There are now many private dental clinics popping up around suburbia.

But the old adage of “Build it, and they will come” hardly applies to any business field today, let alone dentistry.

Consumers have countless choices of where to dine, what cinema to attend, what coffee shop is their favourite.  This cornucopia of options applies in the dental field also, with patients having many choices since each suburb seems to be filled with competing dental clinics. Hence the appointment books are no longer full, and dentists are left wondering just how to attract more patients to their offices.

The answer to this dilemma is the same as for so many other businesses today: online marketing.

It is vital for dental clinics now to jump online and conduct a robust marketing campaign via social media. This is where the action is: if new dental clinics want to attract patients, they need to be at the forefront of social media. With dentists three to five years out of dental school opening many of these new clinics, it is fair to say that these relatively new dentists will simply languish without enough patients unless they jump on the online marketing bandwagon via social media.

If you somehow manage to land a job at a well-established practise, then you won’t have much to worry about besides providing optimal care for your patients. New dentists without the safety net of working for such a practice might consider practicing dentistry in a rural rather than an urban setting; but today, even this road can no longer assure a new dentist of a thriving practice. Jobs are scarce, plus many other new graduates are also going to be willing to move a long way to find steady work. Then should you make the move to the country and join or establish a successful practice, the question arises as to how long you would be willing to remain in that locale, particularly if you are more used to an urban setting or are looking for more opportunities for your children.

On the other hand, whilst a smaller patient base may bring in substantially less pay, it can also act as an incentive for dentists to upskill to allow significant points of difference between them and other dentists who may not have learned new skills. Patients then benefit from access to dentists who can perform more complex procedures, offering everything the patient needs at one clinic. Another advantage to a sparse appointment book is that it can encourage dentists to reach out to the community to establish a patient loyalty base. This can be a tough process but can help young and new dentists to develop into mentally stronger professionals with considerable business acumen, particularly if these dentists do establish a thriving online presence through social media. And remember: once you have a loyal patient, that patient will stay with you for life and recommend you to many others.

So think of this period of time as an opportunity rather than a shortcoming—a time to improve and constantly upskill, a time to manage your clientele better so they become lifelong patients, a time to learn new skills such as online marketing to ensure you are not left behind.”

Viet graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Science from the University of Melbourne in 2011, and has worked as a dentist in private practice since this time. He is a passionate young health professional who is always offering patients the highest quality care as he is at the forefront of cutting edge dentistry. Viet is constantly updating his knowledge in his field, with particular interests in oral surgery and orthodontics.

Viet completed his secondary schooling at Melbourne High School, achieving an ATAR of 99.70. In his spare time he enjoys travel, outdoor activities, fitness and sports.

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