Interview by Dr. Madalyn Davidson
I was introduced to Dr. Doug Daehlin via a patient at a dental office I was locuming at in Washington State. My patient said, “Oh I have a friend who does what you do!”. At the time I didn’t realize anyone did locuming dentistry so I was curious to meet him. After years of exchanging phone calls about the intricacies of dental locuming, Doug and I have remained close colleagues and have even participated in a dental volunteer mission trip to India together. Please enjoy my interview with Dr. Daehlin, he illustrates many benefits of locuming dentistry.
MD: Give me a short timeline of your experiences as a dentist and how you found your way into locum dentistry.
DD: After retiring from the Air Force, I knew I still wanted to be a dentist but wanted to avoid the “ball and chain” of a dental office. So I decided to go the locum route and have never regretted it.
During my Air Force career, I had a “break in service” and associated with a dentist in Texas for two years. In the Air Force we were able to provide the care for our patients that they needed. The two years of private practice was an eye opener on how much control insurance companies and the family budget have over providing the care the patient needed. I left private practice and came back in the service where patient needs drive treatment.
MD: How has locuming helped supplement your “retirement”?
DD: With my military retirement I knew I could pay the bills. Locuming has provided the additional funds to get completely out of debt.
MD: How do you decide how much locuming work to take on through the course of a year?
DD: We would book out the vacations we knew we wanted to take during the year, and I would book locum jobs around the vacations. If no work came in I would go fishing.
MD: How has locuming enriched your life as a dentist?
DD: It gave me the opportunity to give back to humanity with mission trips. My first was seven weeks on the Mercy Ship in Togo, Africa. A month in India with an organization called Himalayan Health Exchange was a rewarding experience. Flying Doctors of America is an outstanding organization and I have been to Peru, Fiji, and Panama with them. Global Dental Relief has missions that only treat children, I went to Guatemala with them.
MD: How do you find your locuming jobs?
DD: When I decided to do locuming dentistry, I personally visited some offices in my local area to introduce myself. I also gave my business cards to a dental supply salesman and the phone started ringing. Advertising in the local district dental society newsletter has also provided several jobs.
I worked with one of my clients for 18 years until he took on an associate to sell his practice. There have been times when I’ve been booked out over a year in advance to cover vacation time for my colleagues. Other times, I’m called to come in the next day. Once for a broken thumb!
MD: Would you encourage other dentists to locum as a transition into retirement?
DD: It has been a win-win situation for all concerned. The overhead gets taken care of while the doctor is out. When a patient breaks a tooth they are thankful there is someone there to take care of them. The staff appreciates that their paychecks are not affected. And the doctor gets a relaxing vacation, attends a CE course, takes maternity leave, or has stress-free recovery time from an illness.
MD: Any other wisdom you’d like to share about your experience?
DD: I have learned more ways to “skin a cat” observing how different practices approach a procedure. It has been a fun and rewarding way to be a dentist.
Dr. Daehlin practices locum dentistry in Washington State and Montana and enjoys travels with his wife Gail.
If you would like to know more about dental locuming please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org