Success story: From burn-out to making a difference

Dr David Pilgrim went from burn-out to partner in a dental practice, thanks to his passion for quality care and a little help from BOQ Specialist.

 5 minutes


Dr David Pilgrim knew he wanted to make a difference, and it would be in dentistry that he’d find his passion for helping people live healthier lives. 

That passion was born while working at the John Hunter Children’s Hospital and studying at Newcastle University. Later, Dr Pilgrim transferred to Griffith University’s brand-new dental school on the Gold Coast. 

“It was the first new dental school in Australia in over 60 years,” he says. “I was part of the first intake so it was a risk because no graduates had come through before us. But in hindsight it was the right decision. It was a practical, hands-on course.” 


Baptism by fire

Following graduation, Dr Pilgrim returned to Newcastle with his partner—whom he met at dental school—and started work as an associate in a busy dental practice. 

“It was in a lower socio-economic area and I was working across two surgeries,” he says. “It was very busy but I built a lot of great relationships with patients.”

However, after four busy years Dr Pilgrim was feeling burnt out and disillusioned with the practice’s business model.

“Dental health tends to be poorer in lower socio-economic areas, so I was pulling out a lot of teeth. But I didn’t feel like we were making a difference to our patients’ long-term dental health,” he says. 

“I got into this business to help people be healthier, not just pull teeth out.” 


Time for a change

That’s when Dr Pilgrim met the three partners who ran Care Dental Centre. They were looking for a young, enthusiastic dentist to add to their team. Dr Pilgrim fit the bill. 

“Each partner has veto rights, so I met with all three partners and spent some time getting to know the practice,” he says. “I was immediately impressed.” 

So were Care’s existing partners, they offered Dr Pilgrim the opportunity to buy in as a partner straight off the bat. “It was a big decision. It was about a $500,000 buy-in. I would have been financially better off staying at my current practice. But I was so impressed with Care’s business model, I knew I’d be better off in the long-term.”


A better business model

Care’s business model offered the time Dr Pilgrim was craving to give his patients quality care. The set-up also provided a better work/life balance that he knew would be much more sustainable over the long-term. Especially as he and his partner considered starting a family. 

“We basically operate as three independent practitioners and share resources,” he explains. “We each have our own patients, receptionist and hygienist, but share the costs of practice management.”


Show me the money

Dr Pilgrim was sold on the idea, but needed to come up with the finance to make it happen. As a young dentist just starting out, he knew that would be a challenge. That’s why he went straight to the BOQ Specialist. 

“We already had our home loan and car loans through BOQ Specialist, so I gave them a call to see what my options were,” says Dr Pilgrim. “They looked at our potential earnings rather than at just the money we had in the bank and could see this was a great opportunity. They seem to assess the human rather than just the numbers.”

Dr Pilgrim and has wife have also recently purchased an investment property with a loan from BOQ Specialist.

“I looked at the other banks just to do my due diligence, but the paperwork they wanted was mountainous,” he says. “With BOQ Specialist, it’s so simple. They explained exactly what was needed and were there to answer our questions when we needed help. 

As for life as a partner at Care, Dr Pilgrim couldn’t be happier. “They’ll carry me out in a box,” he laughs.


Thinking about buying into a practice? Click on the link to find out more about our tailored financial solutions for practice purchaseReady to take the next step? Contact us to find out how we can tailor a practice finance solution for you, or call us on 1300 131 141.

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