If you’re experiencing financial difficulty, BOQ Specialist is here to help. Call 1800 950 399 (option 2) Learn more

Drs Shalu Singh and Retaish Karwal: Skin in the game

Newcastle GPs Drs Shalu Singh and Retaish Karwal realised their dream of their own skin cancer clinic with the help of BOQ Specialist.

  6 minutes



Skin cancer is a big issue in Australia. It’s the most common cancer diagnosed, and two in three Australians will be treated for it in their lifetime. It’s a passion for Dr Shalu Singh and Dr Retaish Karwal, who emigrated here in 2010. But even though they could offer treatments in a corporate-owned clinic, there was something missing.

“We always had a few issues working in a corporate clinic,” says Dr Singh. “You don’t have a complete say in whatever you want done and how you want things done with the patient care, follow-up and so on. We wanted somewhere we could do it our way. And we also wanted to concentrate on just the skincare side of things.”

They also wanted to move to the other side of Newcastle, nearer where their kids went to school. “It would be easier because we were travelling back and forth a lot and eventually we just thought, ‘Why not just open our own place where we know what we’re doing, we have a control over things. We can do things our way’,” she adds.

Moving to Australia

The importance of offering skin cancer treatments became quickly apparent to both Dr Singh and Dr Karwal when they first arrived in Australia a decade ago. They started working as GPs in Rockhampton, Queensland, and saw more and more of it. “Rockhampton was a little town, and any specialists were a bit far away,” explains Dr Singh. “The patients came and asked us about skin lesions, and we were doing a lot of excisions. That’s when we thought there’s a lot of skin cancer in Australia, particularly Queensland, and we need to further our knowledge in skin cancer to help people more.”

She had done her medical training through India’s Armed Forces Medical College, and they had met while serving in the Indian Armed Forces. But the appeal of an army career was overshadowed when they came to visit Dr Singh’s brother, who was living in Australia. “He said it’s a beautiful place, and they’re very nice people and you should come over sometime and visit,” she recalls. “That’s when we thought, ‘Yeah, we like it, and we’ll stay’.”

After the initial couple of years in Queensland, they moved around before settling at Cardiff Skin Cancer Clinic near Newcastle. “Once we moved here, we really liked the place,” says Dr Singh. “It was really nice. We were at a point where we had to settle in one place. We had little kids and we loved Newcastle. So we just thought we would just settle down for now.”

Building the business

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. They took out a loan to build a house, but part way through the process the builder went broke. “We were left with pretty much nothing,” she says. “That was a tough time.” BOQ Specialist helped them out, however, and they managed to sell that property and find a rental property.

The big win for them out of that process was the relationship with BOQ Specialist. That would become invaluable as they began to think about moving again—this time to Maitland, north of the city.

They eventually found the right place, in the right location and the right size, and immediately set about fitting it out. It all happened very quickly: “Within a month everything was settled, the deal was done. And then we started the fit-outs, and the fit-outs didn’t take long either. It started mid-November and we were finished before Christmas.”

“I think the big difference that BOQ Specialist could make was we could match the speed of what they were doing,” says Jordan Smith of BOQ Specialist. “We managed the payments to fit-out companies and worked with everyone to make sure people were paid quickly. These are the kind of projects we do all the time, so when you have a clear plan and clients as experienced as Drs Karwal and Singh, it’s easier for us to help make it all happen quickly.”

Which is how they’ve now found themselves at Elixir Hunter Skin Cancer Clinic. Business is slowly building, but that suits Dr Singh. “We want to keep it small and manageable because we want to have a bit of a family life as well. Our kids are little. We will be getting lasers down the track and injectables, a little bit of cosmetic work, but not a lot. We want to still focus mainly on the skin cancers.”   


Thinking about starting or growing your medical practice? BOQ Specialist provides tailored medical finance 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.

Subscribe to Best Practice

Our bi-annual magazine which features case studies from our clients and gives you first hand examples of how we can help you to grow your business.

Subscribe now


Related products

Commercial property 

Asset finance


  • Important Information

      The information contained in this webpage is general in nature and has been provided in good faith, without taking into account your personal circumstances. While all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information is accurate and opinions fair and reasonable, no warranties in this regard are provided.