If you do not enjoy your job anymore, do not do it for the rest of your life. Have the courage to make the change so that you can be happy at the end of each day. This is the message Dr Craig Inch has for healthcare professionals who are feeling unfulfilled in the private sector.
The 31-year-old dentist made the move to the public sector in March last year when AHP placed him at Barberton Hospital about 45 km from Nelspruit in Mpumalanga. He is now head of the dental department at the hospital. Four other dentists work there with him.
"I love working here. There is more to life than the business side. When you treat patients here, you focus on healthcare and not on a financial transaction." Inch did his community service at Bethesda Hospital in northern KwaZulu-Natal and then worked in the private sector in and around Cape Town for seven years.
He enjoyed a successful career, but says that treating patients in a public hospital is much more rewarding.
"You are working for the benefit of the patient. They have never heard of anything else than pulling out teeth, but you can do a root canal and crowns for them. They didn't even know it existed. It's fantastic for the patient."
Inch says working in the public sector is much less stressful than running a private practice in the city.
"There's not the stress of dealing with administrative issues like accounts. I don't wake up stressed about work. At the end of the day, I'm a happy person." He explains: "You're not stuck in an office all day. The work is less clinically precise, but it is also more diverse. You deal with rural diseases, car accidents and fractured jaws. You don't see that in private practice.
"Public health gives you the freedom to build up departments, so you are able to practise all treatment modalities (within reason) provided you show efficiency, motivation, and most of all improved statistics."
Inch says many other dentists working in private practice might also share the same frustrations he experienced. Some might be discouraged to work in the public sector as they think they won't earn enough money.
"I'm sure there are lots of people in the same boat. There is a little voice telling you to open another practice, but do what you want to do. Money in government hospitals is not so bad. You can lead a decent life."
Working in a rural area also has many advantages, especially for those who like outdoor activities.
"Barberton is such a beautiful town. The air is clean. You can do fishing, birdwatching or visit game reserves.
"It's a smaller town. People are friendly and a lot more welcoming. I'm a happier person than before I started here."