Bargara-based dentist Lincoln Harris has rapidly grown his training business to the extent that he is now looking to expand overseas.
Restoring Excellence, located next door to his dental surgery Harris Dental Boutique, offers a range of training courses from online tutorials to hands-on and live patient workshops.
“I started learning to expand some of the procedures that we did here and over time other dentists started asking where I learnt to do those procedures,” Dr Linc said.
“Initially when they would ask me I’d just give them a big list of 20 courses that I’d done all around the world.
“Eventually I thought ‘why don’t I run the course?’.”
Dr Linc started offering a small course on treatment planning, focused on the patient’s dental goals.
“That particular course has grown globally,” he said.
“That’s led to training in other areas of dentistry with a focus on the dentist achieving a skill rather than just imparting knowledge.
“That’s really where the growth has been in our business for the last few years.”
His Facebook page now has a following of 28,000 dentists from around the world and he has developed a network of colleagues who teach Restoring Excellence courses with him.
Dentist training set to expand to Europe
Restoring Excellence offers small online lectures for low or no cost up to educational packages and memberships.
“That leads up to hands-on courses which we have mostly been doing in Australia but we’re expanding overseas.
“We’ve been running courses in Berlin, London and the United States in the last year.
“That has expanded in to our hands-on courses which we’re about to build a facility for in Europe.
“We have a facility that we rent in Australia but that quality of facility is just about impossible to get in all of Europe.
“The only way for us to get the quality of facility that we are used to using for our hands-on courses is to build one.
“It will probably lead to somewhere in South Asia and who knows from there.”
Training program draws dentists from throughout country
Qualified dentists travel from throughout Australia to take part in Dr Linc’s training program.
“Our live patient implant course is one of the biggest in Australia now and dentists come from all over Australia to learn implant surgery here on local patients under very tight supervision.
“People in the local population can also get implant surgery at a lower cost than what they could in Asia.
“We want to make high quality education more widely available all around the world, not just for dentists from rich countries.”
Dr Linc said Restoring Excellence was one of the leaders in focussing on “human factors”.
“How your judgement is effected by stress, by fatigue.
“We actually purposely want to make the dentist tired so that at the end of the day we might get them to do something quite difficult to help them understand how much more there is to dentistry than just technique.
“Most of it is in the head, not in the hands.”
Regional base opens door to international training
Dr Linc said living in a regional community that pushed him to take the step in expanding his skills and diversifying his business.
“I’ve always had an interest in learning to do as many procedures as I can and that’s because in a rural area we don’t have specialist support in the same way we do in capital cities,” Dr Linc said.
“If I was based in a big city I would have a whole lot of people around me who were specialists so I would never have had to learn the sorts of things we had to learn.
“The cities are generally more pressured, the practices are under more pressure because their rent is higher.”
But he said the most important factor in his decision to base his business in the Bundaberg Region was the fact he could live on a farm and “have lots of quietness to think”.
“Being in this area has given me space to think my own thoughts without listening to what everyone else has to say and everyone else telling me that you can’t do things and you shouldn’t do things.”
Being removed from a metropolitan area also led Dr Linc to turn to the internet to build his professional network.
“What that’s led to is building the forum that I have now and the network I have built I would never have bothered to build if I had a lot more local connections.
“Bargara has been a huge boon to our education business.”
Bargara the permanent base for Restoring Excellence
Despite plans for global expansion Dr Linc said his headquarters would always remain in the Bundaberg Region.
“As it grows internationally we have people who are wanting to invest in the business and obviously we are building facilities elsewhere,” he said.
“There may be some things that are done overseas for certain parts of what we do to make it more accessible globally but the base will always be here for the long term.”
He said while it was indeed a beautiful and progressive area, there were a number of other benefits to investing in the Bundaberg Region.
“Working in this area is actually much lower risk because the costs are low,” he said.
“The risks of doing what I do in Sydney would be really high – the rent would kill me.
“You learn to be a little bit more diversified because it’s harder to specialise but that often has benefits when you start expanding outside this area.
“I love it here, I don’t want to go anywhere else.
“I try to bring as many other dentists here as possible to make them jealous.”
How did it all begin?
Dr Linc founded Harris Dental boutique in 2000 for an opportunity to spread his professional wings.
“I moved here working for the hospital and I was actually a little bit bored because I couldn’t do many of the procedures I was trained to do at dental school.
“In the public health service they just don’t have the budget to do those things, you have a very limited range of procedures.
“After a while I became a bit frustrated that I couldn’t do dentistry to its full extent.”
After noticing a suitable vacant shop in the Bargara CBD the idea that had sprouted took root.
“I asked for some advice from my parents actually on how much money they had when they started their business and they said ‘we didn’t have any when we started our business’ and I said ‘well I’ve got that much’!
“Then I went in to business.
“I started here part time, I was working at the hospital full time and was working here just nights and weekends.
“It’s slowly grown from there.”
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