After graduating as a dentist, Jalal opened a private dentistry practice in North Sydney. He was always interested in running a mobile clinic, but first wanted to develop his business acumen and clinical experience. In April 2017, he bought a dental truck and has since been visiting outback towns for a week every month.
"We take the truck to towns where the community has difficulty accessing dental care on a regular basis. Almost always there is no dentist in town. There may be a dentist in the public system that visits occasionally, but only patients who have a Centrelink associated are eligible to be seen by them. We return regularly to the same towns, to make sure we can have a continuity of care with the visits, which allows me to do more comprehensive dental work rather than band-aid type treatments.
"I think part of my nature and culture is the desire to give back – although I am running a business there is still a humanitarian aspect, providing a service to people who wouldn't receive it otherwise.
"I’m learning things that I wouldn’t get from private practice alone – there are different ways of doing things, there are different ways to reach people, and it’s a completely different business model. It’s also a refreshing change from city life, where it feels like dentistry is increasingly seen as a commodity – people are going to a dentist because of how cheap they are, or what health fund the dentist is associated with.
"But in the bush, I feel that my service is definitely just that – a genuine service, which is immensely satisfying for me. Basically every patient who walks in, the first thing they’ll say is ‘thank you so much for making the effort to come out’.
"The plan is to grow the team of clinicians, and that will allow me to expand the service to more towns. I’d also like to use it to do a bit of charity, I’d really like to do things like provide dental treatments to the homeless in Sydney, or take it to the detention centre in Villawood."