Forging a career as a private dentist
It has been over eight years since Dan Jethwa, owner and principal dentist of Spondon Dental, decided that he wanted to work predominantly as a private dentist. Since making that decision he hasn’t looked back. Now, with a practice that is completely modernised with three full-time surgeries and a growing private plan base, Dan talks private practice and why he wouldn’t go back and change a thing.
‘Before I bought Spondon Dental, I was working three days a week in an NHS practice and the rest of my time in private practice. I soon discovered that there was a massive difference in how I had to work in each practice.
‘The NHS practice was hard work and extremely fast paced. I found that it was more difficult to provide everything I wanted for the patient within the constraints of what I was given to work with. I personally felt as if I wasn’t able to provide a good service – well not one that I was happy with anyway – whereas the private setting was much more suited to me and the dentistry I aspired to deliver.’
‘When I came to buy a practice of my own, I did initially look at an NHS and private practice, but in the end it was clear that working privately was the best way for me. I preferred the environment, the choice of materials and having the time to care for my patients. I decided to take the leap with Spondon Dental as I could see that I had the opportunity to provide the dentistry I wanted to my future patients. The patients were happy and so were the team – there was definitely a positive culture of delivering quality dentistry, care and prevention about the place.
‘I bought Spondon Dental not long after it had converted. They took the plunge on the day the new contract reform was introduced and it was clear all the team were extremely happy that the change had been made. In fact, they still raved about a regional support manager from Practice Plan called Josie who supported the practice throughout the conversion – even being in the practice on the day of the transition, supporting the team and chatting to the patients! She clearly had invested in the team and the practice to help the conversion run smoothly. I certainly felt that I had a solid business foundation to work from.
‘Initially I concentrated my efforts on modernising the practice and, once complete, quickly turned my attention to our marketing activity. I knew what I wanted, but needed someone to bring my ideas to life. The specialised practice marketing and design team at Practice Plan supported me to develop practice-branded leaflets, brochures and adverts for the practice. I continue to use them even now as their professionalism and efficiency has always been fantastic.’
‘Once our marketing was on track I then turned our attention towards boosting our patient plan members. Over the years, and with Josie’s support, all of my team have always been up to speed and confident in explaining the merits of our plan offering to our patients. My team understand how to monitor and manage our plan; they take advantage of the facilities that Practice Plan provides, such as the online services, which enables them to track our joiners; and the cancellation service enables them to listen to our patients and shape our service for the better. I am pleased to say that this continued effort has resulted in a regular healthy increase in our patient plan base.
‘On a personal level, I feel that as a private dentist I have had the autonomy to develop myself and pursue advanced restorative, cosmetic and implant courses – something that has provided great personal work satisfaction in my career and has benefitted my patients hugely. Similarly, when the opportunity has arisen, as a practice we have also taken advantage of consultancy visits from top dental coaches and attended really useful workshops – most of which have been provided by Practice Plan. I find that these types of sessions are extremely beneficial and productive in the sense that we have adapted our practice and the way we have operated because of them.
‘Right from the start, I have always tried to ensure that as a business we are evolving and growing, making sure to draw on all the support that was available to me. When I look back to eight years ago, initially I had assumed that Practice Plan would be just in the background administering our practice branded plan, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
‘Over the years Josie has been a great support to the practice, keeping in touch, providing us with key business resources and supporting us with industry contacts. She became more than a regional support manager, she is a genuine friend.
‘So, if you presented me with the same choice I had nine years ago, to buy an NHS practice or a private one – would I pick the private option again? I would have to say absolutely and I am so glad that I had the support of Practice Plan.’
Practice Plan is a specialist provider of practice branded patient membership plans in the UK. If you are thinking about changing provider, Practice Plan has the experience, expertise and systems to ensure that setting up and implementing your plan is a pain-free and seamless experience. What’s more, whilst working in partnership with your practice, once you’re up and running Practice Plan has a wealth of business and plan support services to help you develop a profitable and sustainable business. If you would like to know how Practice Plan could help you make a greater success of your practice, visit www.practiceplan.co.uk/change, call 01691 684165 or sign up for its business support at blog.practiceplan.co.uk.