The OHT Experience Part 3 – Private General

Part 3 covers the experiences of a new graduate OHT working in a private general dental practice. If you missed parts 1 or 2 of the series, check them out here and here. For experiences of new graduate dentists, head on over here.

Did you always want to work in a private general dental practice, or did you find yourself falling into it by chance?

I had always planned on working in private practice. I felt as if the private sector was a better fit for myself personally and offered a greater lifestyle

How did you find the whole process of finding a job?

I found the whole process of finding a job surprisingly easy. I was not looking to work in the city so having the ability to move to almost any location really opened up my opportunities, I was lucky enough to be offered 3 different positions. Throughout the recruitment process I had a fairly good idea if I was successful – for two of the interviews I attended I was offered the position before the interview had finished and for the other it was somewhat clear I was in their top two selections.

The job application processes was quite simple – applying through the ADA jobs board then finding, researching and applying for clinics I felt could be a good fit for me. As I was still on rural placement I would commonly have a telephone/Skype interview initially then after passing the first stage I would then visit the individual clinics and have a face to face interview with the practice manager/senior dentist(s) with a tour through the clinic.

How do you find the mentorship in your practice?

In my practice the senior dentist treats a lot of patients each day and does not have a lot of time to provide mentorship, however will help out if it is necessary. However, I consider myself quite lucky to have such knowledgeable associate dentists that are more than happy to help in any way that they can. Unfortunately, in my experience – mentorship did not play a big role in my new graduate career.

What are your regular working hours? Do you have enough/too many hours?

My regular working hours are 08:00AM – 5:00PM/-5:30PM working a 8-9 days per fortnight. I am quite comfortable working these hours, although I am fairly tired after working the 5 day weeks.

How flexible is your work schedule for holidays/courses/sick leave?

My work schedule is fairly flexible, whenever I have asked for leave for holidays/courses or whenever I’ve been sick it has been granted. For holidays and courses a leave request must be submitted to the practice manager however management are understandable if sickness’ arise.

Do you practice more hygiene or therapy?

I practice around 90% hygiene 10% therapy.

Do you think you are practicing to your full scope? Or do you sometimes feel you are practicing below it, or being pushed to practice above your scope?

I am definitely not practicing to my full scope, as I practice more hygiene I can recognise that I have lost some skill sets in therapy and do not feel confident in performing certain tasks such as deep caries management, pulpotomies or extractions.

What do you believe is a fair rate of pay for a first year OHT in a private general clinic?

Minimum of $45 per hour as a starting rate, then having a review in 3-6 months time where you re-negotiate your hourly rate. (Do be careful as some jobs may say you will be paid so much per hour but have hidden superannuation included. Ensure your employer is as open and upfront with you regarding pay from the beginning.)

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

You’re not going to get every piece of calculus, if you don’t get it this time, you’ll get it the next time.
You’ll learn more in your first year out than throughout your whole degree clinically so absorb as much knowledge and take on as much advice as you can.

What is the best advice you can give?

If you can try to obtain positions in both the public and the private sector so you can get as much exposure to both therapy and hygiene to fully utilise your scope of practice.

Allow yourself to be mentored – constructive criticism is a great thing and will really help you improve.

Know that you’re not going to be perfect, as a new graduate we all make mistakes, as long as you’re doing your best you will only improve with each patient.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the posts from our helpful OHTs! For the public experience click here, and for the private ortho practice experience click here

David is a recent graduate dentist working in private practice in regional NSW, Australia. Read more at

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