Although the concept of a move to Australia was scary, particularly as a single female in her thirties, the change in lifestyle since the move last year has far outweighed any risks or reservations I had.
As an NHS dentist I was used to the daily grind of 20-30 patients a day (on one particularly bad day I had to see 42). My main concern was that the quality of my work would not be up to the aesthetic standard of the Australian dental system. However, I now see roughly eight to 10 patients a day and have time to ensure I am producing quality aesthetic dentistry. It finally feels like I can sit back and breathe a little and I no longer go home exhausted from talking to a vast number of patients to build good relationships.
One of the draws for me, particularly in the practice I have ended up working in, was the potential for career development. Over the years I have worked in community services and oral and maxillofacial surgery, and welcome the chance to progress my skills. In the position I have taken in Australia, my lead dentist is keen for me to go on any course I want and is keen to mentor me through implants and orthodontics as I complete these.
There is far more support available after the courses are completed, and generally the practices are set up to then promote new services.
Dentistry in Australia, particularly with Maven, is centred on the patient experience. While this can sometimes feel like a headache as you can’t really refuse to see people if they are late so end up running late yourself, if you are a people person and a talker like I am, it is a very comfortable environment as you actually have the time to talk to your patient, and forge good relationships with them far faster than you do in the NHS (even for me – the ultimate chatterbox). The aim is to get people to return and to bring friends and family with them, as the system in general practice is private based and fee per item. This means the patients will shop around, and they will not return if they do not feel comfortable with the clinician or any part of the practice.
It’s a scary thing to move to the other side of the world and leave your friends, family and your work-family behind. However, Australians are very friendly and are keen to help you settle in. Join a gym, or just go out and have a lunch, a coffee or a drink on your own, someone will talk to you. Overall, you won’t regret the decision to move to Australia and experience the way of life. Even if you decide to return to the UK afterwards, you will have picked up new skills, new friends and progressed your career along the way.
Heather Beattie is a dentist practising at Southside Smiles and Channon Lawrence Dental in Gympie, Queensland.
Originally published in The Dentist magazine - January 2019