Returning from Singapore

One of the best things me and my wife (also a Dentist, for my sins) did was to move to Singapore to work as GDPs and travel.

I used one of my favourite apps, 1 Second Everyday (1SE), to record my Singapore experience. I enjoyed using 1SE more than Snapchat, as it was more down to earth. I could record the most significant part of a day (often this was food related – no surprises!) as a snippet – whereas Snapchat has become a constant bombardment of ‘my life is amazing’.

Here is my video:

As you can see, Singapore was a clean, colourful, vibrant and fun place to be. It has a very special place in our hearts.

We had a lot of expat friends and treated lots of expat patients. Typical of expats, many of them had already lived in other ‘expat friendly’ places such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Tokyo. If they could all describe Singapore in 1 word, they would unanimously say it is ‘liveable’. Sounds dull, doesn’t it?

I feel the term ‘liveable’ is so accurate, but it does not do Singapore justice. It just means that compared to all those exotic locations above, it is super easy to settle in to Singapore and call this place home.

Why?

– English is the main language
– Weather is constant 30C every day, all year round (but super humid!)
– Of the 5 million population, over 1 million are expats
– It is a great hub from which to explore the rest of Asia

Professionally speaking, it was great because:

– Healthcare is predominantly private
– Cheap indemnity – supposedly the dental litigation rate is very low. I paid equivalent to £750 for my year’s subscription, which in the UK would cost £4,000+ with the same indemnity company (DPL).
– Lower taxes
– Generally high standard of dental care

So if it was so great, why did we come back?

While I’d rather not go in to the specifics of it, I can say that it has become more difficult for foreign trained dentists to find and maintain work. There was less stability due to this. Also, my wife was missing family. So the two reasons became powerful enough that we decided to move back to the UK.

Singapore was almost a perfect haven for a Dentist and I would recommend it to anyone – just be warned that finding a job is now very tricky as practices can find it difficult to accommodate foreign trained Dentists.

That being said, I can only speak very highly of Q&M Dental who supported me and my wife so well, allowed us to provide good quality care to our patients, and made it fun to work for them.

The most interesting observations were cultural. In the UK, when you call your GP or Dentist and want to make an appointment for a check up or a clean, you expect to wait anywhere between a few days to a few weeks. In Singapore, my sometimes empty book could become very busy from walk-in patients. Patients expected to be seen on the same day, and the pattern of past attendance was often sporadic. I found this walk-in culture quite bizzare! Patients would book an appointment for a check up, a scale, and if any treatment was necessary, they would often try and get it all done together. I wonder how many Singaporeans are regular attenders?

I will miss my lovely patients in Singapore and the quirky dental assistants I worked with. It’s a shame we left because my Mandarin was getting quite good!

As we move to pastures new, I am super excited to be doing what I love doing. There is a lot of negativity in UK Dentistry and the morale has been low amongst the profession. I still think we are in an awesome profession and every day we get the opportunity to change peoples’ lives. Although I could not bring the weather back with me to the UK, I did bring back high spirits. Wishing all my friends, colleagues and patients a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!

Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! 新年快乐!

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