It was never her intention to open her own practice, but a gap in the market inspired her to create a clinic like no other.
Visitors to St Kilda dermatology clinic Skindepth will notice a special touch as they approach the front door. Lining the pathway is a medicinal garden blooming with aloe vera, rosemary and other plants that have historically been used to treat skin conditions.
This is just one of the enticing features of the clinic with a difference that opened its doors in mid 2016. But owner Dr Alice Rudd explains that stepping out on her own was never high on her list of goals.
Studying medicine at Monash University, she gravitated towards dermatology because “it was a good mix of all the areas of medicine that I love. You can treat disease and you can make people feel better about how they look. Even a small amount of skin disease can really affect your psychology and your self-esteem. Dermatology can make a difference to that.”
A new approach to skin care
After working for several years in clinics around Melbourne, it was the psychological impact of skin problems and her research into other areas of health that prompted the practitioner to take the leap to opening her own clinic.
“I’ve done medical dermatology for a long time and I noticed that there is no real one stop shop that fixes skin problems,” she explains.
“I’m also a qualified yoga teacher and I strongly believe that if we can reduce stress and anxiety it can help a lot.”
Thus the plan for Dr Rudd’s clinic was to include qualified dermatologists and cosmetic nurses, but to also set up with an in-house nutritionist. “I’m keen to empower people to look after their skin in the long term. By combining treatments we can introduce a plan that will address what is happening now as well as what is going to happen in the future.”
Location, location, location
St Kilda made sense as the location of choice due to the areas “nice rhythm, good demographic, cafe scene and nearby private hospital”. The clinic is established in a corner
Dr Rudd took control of setting up the interior on her own, gathering inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram to create a Scandinavian feel with wooden timber along with hues of grey and white.
“It’s very fresh, clinical and professional,” she says. The building’s previous occupant proved to be a lucky contact for the young business owner by becoming a mentor as she set up her practice. “He was an older GP who was about to retire,” she says. “It was just meant to be. He’s been very nurturing and I couldn’t have done it without him.”
As a tip to anyone thinking of going down the same path, Dr Rudd’s first recommendation is to have guidance. “You need someone who is not in direct competition with you but who has done it before,” she says. “There is so much to think about and they will be able to give you advice. I’d also suggest having good people on staff who can help you with management and organisation.”
What she’s learnt
What has Dr Rudd learnt from the experience of setting up her own clinic? “I’d have hired people earlier,” she says. “It seems like a lot of money but it can save stress and anxiety. You’re always busier than you think you’re going to be and you’re better off hiring someone to do the legwork. Running a business is a whole different ball game. I’ve done thirteen years of study and still nothing could have really prepared me for this.”
The pressure-filled months in the leadup [to opening her clinic] “taught me to be compassionate towards myself,” says Dr Rudd. The short-term goal is to continue to grow Skindepth into a holistic “skin hub”. Dr Rudd has plans to introduce a plastic surgeon as well as a psychologist in the near future. “And a yoga studio out the back at some point,” she exclaims. “That’s the dream!”
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