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Dear Colleague — THE RATIOS DON’T WORK

I was doing the maths the other day and the ratios don’t add up. It would appear that there are approximately 1100 patients per dentist. That doesn’t sound so bad except the research goes on to say that only 50% of these people will visit dentist.

 You’ve worked hard for your degree and I’m sure you did this in the belief that you would be well compensated for your efforts. You may be passionate about dentistry and I certainly hope you are, if not get out now, it’s the passion that keeps you going! 

But — It’s harder than it was 40 years ago to make the sort of living you were hoping for. You’ve invested in your passion, what are you going to do now?

Now right here you could tell me to retire, I’m 67 and you’ve just started. Me clearing off would leave a few more patients for you to treat. It’s true, but actually according to research there are at least a thousand dentists over 65 in practice, I’m sure for a variety of reasons. 

About 35 years ago I decided to “Niche Down” my practice. This was a great idea and certainly helped me keep an active interest in my career. Without specialising it’s a great way to become an expert and the go to person in your area. 

If I could do it all again, I would add one more factor to the game. I would have invested in a secondary form of income. Back then it was property, garages, car parks or storage units. Now it’s moved to the online space. For a far smaller investment you can niche your practice and work online. 

It makes sense. We are seeing rapid change within the industry and while we have an epidemic of tooth decay, the competition is becoming greater, health funds more proactive and the proverbial preferred provider squeezed out. 

If you want the life you promised yourself when you entered Uni, then it makes sense to be ahead of this trend, and hedge against the changes that will inevitably come. 

I’d love to share both my take on “Niching Down” in practice and working the online space.

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