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Dr Laura MacNeil - Starting her own practie

Her decision to have a break from dentistry turned out to be a pivotal point in Dr Laura MacNeil’s dental career.

  3 minutes

Dr Laura MacNeil had been working in a corporate dental practice in Mount Lawley, Perth, when she found herself falling out of love with dentistry.

“I worked for five years under a corporation and just got a bit fed up with it. So I did some travelling around Europe, taking some time to decide what else I wanted to do,” she says. During the three months she spent away from the profession, she realised she missed it. She also realised she missed Australia. So when she returned, with the idea of perhaps starting a very patient-focused practice, she headed back to Mount Lawley to discover that the building she had worked in for the past five years was now up for lease.

“It’s an old substation for the trams that used to run up and down Beaufort Street, but it was converted to a dental practice about 30 years ago,” she says.

“It seemed like a great opportunity to set up on my own, given that I knew the area and the patients.”

Familiar territory

It’s a strange feeling going back to work in a familiar environment, but for yourself rather than another company. But it also gives you an opportunity to focus on the type of practice it will be without the distractions of getting used to a new space.

“I think it’s easy to forget that coming to the dentist is a big deal for most people,” she says.

“So we’ve made a conscious effort to be more welcoming.

"We’ve got a coffee machine, and have paid attention to the scent of the place, because there’s a smell people associate with dental surgeries that you don’t notice when you work in one all day. We’re trying to be more sustainable, too, and have invested in technology and equipment that is more environmentally friendly.”

Bright days ahead

Originally from Scotland, Dr MacNeil’s mother was a dental nurse, and she grew up surrounded by the profession. She applied to study dentistry at university at age 16: “Dentistry made sense to me. It was a practical course. There was some sort of artistic licence within it. I still got to help people. At the end of the day, it wasn’t the life and death decisions you would have being a doctor.”

Before her final year of university, she came out to Perth as part of her dental elective to work with an orthodontist. “At that point it was the middle of winter, and the family I was staying with had three young boys who were going to the beach. And I thought, ‘This is a bit different to what I’m used to’. The weather was a big drawcard.”

Her own boss

Based on her previous experience she had learnt a lot about the type of practice she wanted to build and what she wanted to avoid. Also, “my parents have had their own business. It wasn’t dental, but that sort of gave me an indication that I did want to be my own boss eventually,” she says.

When the time came to do just that and start up on her own, the question of where to find finance was an easy one—she called Karyn Bailey from
BOQ Specialist because she had dealt with the bank previously when getting a mortgage and had a good experience.

Clean and new

She had just completed the new fit-out and branding and was getting ready to open the doors when the pandemic hit.

“I’ll say, that did help refocus the mind,” she laughs. “It had some advantages as well. When we did eventually open, there wasn’t the same sort of pressure because I thought, ‘Well, if business is slow, there’s a good reason’. And as an added bonus, we could open up and boast straight away we were COVID-free!”


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. Or 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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