Dr Andrew James finds a way to help

For dentist Dr Andrew James, a chance meeting with Nelson Mandela years ago and more recently a pandemic, changed his life.

  4.5 minutes

One of the biggest hurdles in starting and running your own practice is finding the time to do it. You find the time because you’re ready to take that leap into the unknown, but it’s invariably a juggle—or at least, that’s what Victorian dentist Andrew James was expecting. Then, suddenly, he had all the time in the world.

“We had started planning in 2019,” he explains. “During the early days of the pandemic I couldn’t treat patients other than for emergencies, so I used the spare time to develop a business strategy.

“The idea of Creative Dental Haus was born when I identified a gap in the Geelong market and what the other clinics were offering. Patient feedback was that the dental clinics were too intimidating and too ‘clinical’ and dated. I started researching the future of medical and dental clinic design and the relationship between the spaces and our wellbeing.”

He looked at various options along Victoria’s surf coast. However, he wanted to be a true community dentist and have the ability to attend the clinic for emergencies at short notice. As time went on, suburb by suburb, he narrowed the search down until one day he pulled up in front of a former supermarket. It was the perfect size, along a well-known busy shopping strip—and only 500 metres from where he lives. 

Blame Nelson Mandela

It sounds odd to say it, but Dr James would never have ended up in this corner of the world if it wasn’t for Nelson Mandela. Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, he was set on his life’s journey when he bumped into Mandela in a hospital cafeteria.

“When I was 14 years old, my older sister, Nadia, was in a car accident and in ICU for six months,” he explains. “I visited the hospital every day with my parents and one day, in the cafeteria, Nelson Mandela walked past me. I jumped up to have a chat with him, and he asked me why I was there. Later, when I told my parents, their first thought was I had been imagining it.

“We went back into the ICU waiting room and soon after, Nelson Mandela came walking in with his bodyguards. I remember my Dad was speechless. Mandela came in to see Nadia. She was in an induced coma, so he wrote her a letter and said, ‘Dear Nadia, I wish you well. I hope you recover from your injuries. Much love, Nelson Mandela.’ This experience changed my life. It was an inspiration for me, and after my meeting with him, I realised I wanted to help people.”

Of all the medical and helping professions, dentistry was the path that made the most sense to Dr James.

Getting started

Dr James settled in West Geelong, close to a decent population of patients and not too far from the surf beaches.

“I wanted to give my patients the most comfortable and convenient dental experience; from an easy to navigate website, convenient parking, to calming green interiors, all the way through to aftercare,” he says.

“Technology and social media were also a crucial aspect. Staying up to date with both is now more important than ever, and dentists must be prepared to embrace these into the future. I am excited by the opportunities this has to offer and the direction we are heading.”

He opened the doors in February 2022, to a shiny new practice filled with the latest and greatest technology. “The big picture is to establish a presence in the community and grow. We have a large space with enough room to employ another two dentists. The vision for Creative Dental Haus is to be a modern, state-of-the-art clinic that provides the latest dental technology and a comfortable and stress-free patient experience.”

A key partner in the process was Luke James of BOQ Specialist. “Luke made the process so seamless, I never had to worry about anything,” Dr James says. “We had a schedule of 50 things to do in a day, every day, and the last thing I needed to worry about was the financial aspect of things. Luke was always approachable and transparent. It came down to trust. Once you have trust in someone, the process is so much easier.” 


Thinking about starting or growing your practice? Click on the link to find out more about our tailored financial solutions for setting up a practice.

Ready 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 160 160. 

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