Associate Professor Mehdi Valizadeh on starting again in a new country

It’s not easy leaving your culture to start a new life, but that’s what periodontist A/Prof Mehdi Valizadeh did, and there’s more he plans to do.

  4.5 minutes

The process of establishing a new practice is always a dream for any clinician,” says periodontist Associate Professor Mehdi Valizadeh. “But at the same time, it’s a challenge. There are lots of question marks that come with establishing a new practice.” It’s even more challenging if you’re doing it in a new country, in a new culture, in your third language. But A/Prof Valizadeh wasn’t going to let any of those factors deter him.

“I was advised that it’s better to buy into a previously established specialist practice so you can mitigate some of the risk,” he says. “However, I had some unique dreams for my future practice. I took the risk of establishing a new practice, but I was confident that we could build up a practice I always dreamed of.”

Having a central location was important. If he found a spot, he knew he had to move fast. He was familiar with that, though—when he had first moved to Australia, he started work two days after arriving in the country. 

The pull of periodontics

A/Prof Valizadeh became fascinated by periodontics back in his motherland when, as a newly graduated dentist, he had assisted one of his mentors in some cases and found himself intrigued by dental implants. “I started to study more, attended some courses, and began treating patients with dental implants,” he recalls. “After a couple of years, I realised that was not enough, so I chose to enter a full-time three-year specialty program in periodontics to gain more knowledge about dental implants. However, once I started studying periodontics, I realised that periodontics is a much broader field. It was, to my mind, the foundation of dentistry.”

Around 2008, after establishing himself as both a teacher and practitioner, A/Prof Valizadeh and his wife Leila, also a dentist, decided to look for a huge adventure and a different place to live. This process took another five to six years of exams. Around this time, his sister, who lived in Perth, called him to say she had been looking for periodontist positions for him, and there was one available in Perth, Western Australia. “The process of moving from my home country to Australia happened within months. I arrived on the 20th of April, and I started working in a specialist periodontics practice on the 22nd of April. Everything happened very fast.”

For the first few years, he focused on growing his referral base, while he found his feet and adapted to his new environment. “For someone with any level of experience as a skilled worker there are lots of things that change, and you need to adapt,” he says. “For the first three years, to be honest with you, it was the most difficult period.”

But in 2017, he was offered an adjunct position with the University of Western Australia (UWA), working with postgraduate students as a clinical supervisor. Five years after his initial appointment at UWA and practising as a practice principle in a corporate-owned specialist practice, he felt the time had come to start looking at opening his own.

Knowledge sharing

The ideal location, he decided, was somewhere central enough for all potential patients to get to him, but with available parking. “I chose to come to a peninsula area in South Perth. It’s more suburban, but there is a fast pace of development here.”

Funding came from BOQ Specialist, which for A/Prof Valizadeh was never a difficult choice. “One year after moving to Australia, we decided to buy a home,” he explains. “Our accountant connected us with BOQ Specialist and they made the process of purchasing our house so smooth that I really didn’t have a second choice to go to when I decided to go ahead with establishing the new practice.”

“Mehdi was already well known to us from his home lending needs,” says Josh van Bruchem of BOQ Specialist. “It was through working closely with his accountant, John Baratsas of Paxon Group, that I had the privilege to work with Mehdi. I was quite excited when they told me he planned to launch his own boutique practice. It launched this year, but we were already in the throes of planning mid last year.

“The same way he put faith in his accountant, he was looking for a financier to go on the journey with him. Mehdi already had a really strong reputation and brand, so opening a private practice for himself was just a natural progression in his career. We were able to fund 100 per cent of the practice start-up costs, which included the fit-out, the equipment, and the highly desirable South Perth commercial property purchase. We structured the debt to allow ample breathing space on his cash flow for the initial month whilst he was transitioning.

“It was our understanding of Mehdi’s specific needs that resulted in a quick and seamless approval to support him, as he launched his now very successful practice.”

Now well established, A/Prof Valizadeh’s plan for the future is to spread knowledge about periodontics and implant dentistry. “In the medium to long-term, I would love to add a space to connect it to this clinic in the form of a niche training and research centre for local dentists, as well as for international colleagues who could travel here to take part in courses and scientific projects. This is my plan for the future.” 


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