Our reflections on regional practice

Anthony and Yasmin
Whether you are a well-established dental practitioner looking for a change or a recent graduate exploring work opportunities, Anthony and Yasmin recommend looking for jobs in regional areas.

Anthony and Yasmin

When we were approaching our graduation from dental school, we grappled with the question of where we should seek employment—should we remain close to friends and family in the city, or consider a tree change and move to the country?

Anthony was born and raised in Sydney, while Yasmin is from Toronto. Our lived experiences revolve around city lifestyles; we had very little knowledge of life in the countryside before we packed our bags and moved to Tamworth, NSW.

We have now been in Tamworth for two and a half years. We have developed a deep appreciation for the hidden treasures our region has to offer, the comfortable lifestyle it has granted us, and the meaningful service we provide to our community.

Inspired by our rural placement

Our first immersive experience living and working in a rural setting was during our university’s rural placement program, where we spent a month providing dental services to the community in Ballina, NSW. The dental clinics were modern, the work was exciting, and the patients were appreciative of our service. In our downtime, we enjoyed exploring beautiful Ballina and surrounding towns, forests, waterfalls, and beaches—a vast contrast to the urban concrete jungles we were so familiar with. We left Ballina feeling uplifted and inspired, craving the same sense of career fulfilment and access to natural wonders for our future workplaces.

We encourage any current students to participate in similar rural placement programs offered during their studies. Not only was it one of the highlights of our degrees, this experience was also the catalyst for our decision to practise in a rural setting.

Seeking and accepting our roles

We spent the next few months exploring prospective job opportunities in both metropolitan and rural settings. Through our network, we were put into contact with two different dental clinics in Tamworth. The practices approached us in tandem and gave us a dual offer we could not refuse: busy books, wide scope of practice, flexible work hours, access to modern technology, structured mentorship, competitive remuneration, and the same rostered days off. In our experience, rural practices are willing to go above and beyond to encourage well-fitting candidates to join their teams. Not long after receiving our offers, we both signed our respective contracts and made the move to Tamworth. We worked at separate clinics for the first two years, and have now transitioned to work together.

Noticing the lifestyle differences

When we arrived in Tamworth, we found a rental we adored, which was more spacious and affordable than the options we had been considering in Sydney. Our other living expenses are also generally lower; we refuel our car much less frequently as we do not need to drive long distances and our local produce is inexpensive. Our daily commute to work is a four-minute drive, while most trips within town are less than 15 minutes. This has greatly improved our quality of life, as it means we have much more time in the day for ourselves.

Tamworth is a regional town with many shops, restaurants, cafes, and, notably, its own airport. You can find all the major grocery and retail stores along the main street, and all are easily accessible by foot. Weekends and weekday mornings are particularly lively, with community members out-and-about, enjoying everything the town has to offer. Our community is very athletic, outdoorsy, and supportive of sport, as many rural towns are. There is something for everyone! In addition, people are warm, welcoming, and particularly appreciative of new healthcare workers who have relocated to the area.

Yet, an early challenge for us was trying to stay busy outside of work hours—it can be isolating moving rurally without easy access to your established social network. You will find you have appreciably more time to nurture your hobbies or get involved in the community. Yasmin joined the local Musical Society while Anthony connected with the local tennis club, where we met like-minded individuals with whom we have become close friends. We were also introduced to a large group of young health professionals who had relocated to Tamworth for employment opportunities. They have become the foundation for our growing group of friends in town.

If you have moved to a new area for work and need help adjusting, reach out to the DPS 24/7 helpline, 1800 377 700.

Practising dentistry in our local community

We both took over existing patient bases and started work with a steady stream of patients, and were booked out a few months in advance. Common to regional practice, we work nine weekdays a fortnight. We find our rostered days off and weekends immensely helpful for resting and unwinding, given how busy our working lives have become. Our practices offer all aspects of general dentistry, including hygiene and restorative work, oral surgery, endodontics, implants, and orthodontics, and we have been able to learn the basics of some specialist areas from very experienced colleagues.

As our patient bases and comfort levels grew, so too did the complexity of our individual work. We have grown to feel like locals over the years and feel rewarded through the continuation of care and by the quality of patient referrals we receive. This has all contributed to a great feeling of job satisfaction.

Working regionally is worthwhile and fulfilling for a clinician at any stage in their career. If you are looking for a change, you will not regret transitioning towards a rewarding country lifestyle.