How are rural dentist jobs different to those in a city?
Rural dentist jobs can be quite different to those in a city. Some of the key differences include:
- Patient demographics – in rural areas, the patient population is typically smaller and more closely knit. You may have the opportunity to develop long-term relationships with your patients and become a familiar face in the community.
- Scope of practice – rural dentist jobs often have a broader scope of practice compared to their urban counterparts. They may involve a wider range of dental procedures, providing more comprehensive care due to limited access to specialised services.
- Practice opportunities – in rural areas of Australia, there may be fewer dental practices which provides an opportunity for dentists to establish viable practices more easily.
- Access to care – rural areas often face challenges in terms of access to dental care. The population may have limited transportation options and need to travel long distances to reach a dental clinic. This can result in delayed or neglected dental visits, which means you may be involved in more emergency and palliative treatment and less preventative care. However, by providing continuity of dental care to a community, you may be able to reverse this trend and see the positive impact of your work among patients.
- Community involvement – rural dentist jobs allow you to become an integral part of the community. You may have opportunities to participate in community health fairs, school visits, and outreach programs to promote oral health.
- Lifestyle and work-life balance – rural areas often offer a different lifestyle compared to metropolitan settings. Living in a rural community can provide a quieter, less hectic environment. Additionally, rural dentists may have more control over their work schedules and enjoy a better work-life balance.
Of course, every dentist job in Australia has its own unique characteristics. Ultimately, the decision between working in rural dentistry or a city depends on your lifestyle and professional aspirations.
What is the average salary for rural dentist jobs in Western Australia?
The average salary for a rural dentist jobs in Western Australia can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the type of practice.
Rural areas of WA may offer different salary ranges compared to metropolitan areas due to the differences in patient demand, practice sizes, and overhead costs. However, the salaries of most rural dentist jobs will be well beyond those of their city counterparts.
Early career dentists working in private practice in rural WA can make upwards of $150,000 per year. Most work on a percentage of billings of around 38-40%, with a guaranteed minimum salary when you first commence and build your patient list. Rest assured – your chair will be fully booked at all times in most country towns!
Early career dentists working for the Dental Health Service are likely to earn between $115,000 to $187,000 including superannuation, and they are eligible for generous salary packaging options.
Is there much demand for rural dentist jobs in Australia?
Yes, there is generally a demand for rural dentist jobs in Australia. Rural areas often face challenges in attracting and retaining healthcare professionals, including dentists. There are several reasons for this demand:
- Population distribution – Western Australia has a significant proportion of its population living in major cities and along the coastal regions. As a result, rural areas tend to have a lower concentration of healthcare professionals, including dentists. The uneven distribution creates a very high demand for dental services in rural and remote locations.
- Limited access to care – rural communities often have limited access to dental care due to geographical barriers, long travel distances, and fewer dental practices available. This can result in longer wait times for appointments and reduced access to specialised dental services. Consequently, there is a need for dentists to fill these gaps in service provision.
- Ageing rural population – many rural areas in Australia have an ageing population, and older individuals tend to require more dental care. This demographic trend contributes to the demand for dentists in rural locations.
- Government initiatives and incentives – the Australian government has implemented various initiatives and incentives to encourage healthcare professionals, including dentists, to work in rural areas. These programs often offer financial incentives, grants, scholarships, and support for continuing professional development.
- Community needs – rural communities rely heavily on local healthcare professionals to provide essential services. Dentists who choose to work in rural areas can make a significant impact on the oral health of the community and often develop strong connections with their patients.
Dentists in underserved populations can make an enormous difference in rural communities. Experiencing a different lifestyle and practicing in rural locations can be an extremely rewarding and fulfilling choice.
Is it more stressful being a dentist in the country?
Each role and circumstance may attract either more or less stress. There are a few stressors that rural dentists may encounter, such as:
- Workload and scope of practice: rural dentist jobs may have a broader scope of practice and may involve handling a wider range of dental procedures compared to city jobs. This can increase the workload and potentially lead to higher stress levels. Limited access to specialised services may also mean that rural dentists need to handle more complex cases, which can be challenging.
- Limited resources and support – rural areas may have limited access to resources, including advanced dental technology, specialised equipment, and support staff. Dentists in rural locations may need to work with fewer resources and face challenges in providing optimal patient care.
- On-call responsibilities – in some rural areas, dentists may be required to provide on-call services, especially in emergencies or for patients who cannot easily access care. Being on-call can lead to added pressure and stress, as dentists may need to be available outside regular working hours.
- Professional isolation – working in rural areas can sometimes lead to a sense of professional isolation. There may be fewer opportunities for professional networking, collaboration, or mentorship compared to metropolitan settings. This lack of professional support and interaction can contribute to increased stress levels for some dentists. However, across rural Western Australia, each region has its own Health Professionals Network, which provides a range of networking and education opportunities for health professionals in the region.
- Practice management and business challenges – rural dentists often need to manage their practices independently, which includes handling administrative tasks, marketing, and financial management. The additional responsibilities of running a practice can be stressful, particularly for dentists who may not have formal training or experience in business management.
On the other hand, rural dentist jobs also have their advantages. These include the opportunity for a closer connection with the community, a potentially more relaxed lifestyle, and the ability to make a significant impact on underserved populations. These factors can help mitigate some of the stress associated with practicing in rural areas.
Ultimately, the stress experienced by a dentist in a rural area will depend on individual factors, including personal resilience, support systems, work-life balance, and the specific practice environment. It’s important for all dentists to prioritise self-care, seek support when needed, and establish a healthy work-life balance to manage stress effectively, regardless of the practice location.
Are there jobs for new graduates in rural WA?
There is range of opportunities for dental graduates throughout rural Western Australia. In fact, many dental graduates receive job offers prior to completing their studies; particularly those who have completed placements in rural locations.
Rural Health West is well-connected with practices throughout Western Australia and have good insight into which practices are best placed to employ new graduates. We also work with graduates and dental practices to ensure they have appropriate clinical supervision and development programs in place. These support new graduates in becoming independent and confident clinicians.
How easy is it to get a rural dentist job in Western Australia?
There is strong demand for rural dentist jobs across all regions of Western Australia, with each region offering unique lifestyle opportunities. Rural Health West can assist you in finding the perfect role in rural WA and put you in contact with a range of dental practices who have current or upcoming vacancies.
If you’re uncertain where you would like to work, our Explore WA pages provide an overview of what to expect from living and working in each region of WA. Our team can also help you to determine what role and location might suit you best.