I graduated from the University of Western Australia in December, 1980, and began practice initially for the state government, working in country clinics in Bunbury and Albany, country mobile clinics, and in the specialist clinics of the now-defunct Perth Dental Hospital. By late 1983 and early 1984, I was running (with another dentist) the emergency clinic at the main Perth Dental Hospital in Goderich Street, East Perth.
This was challenging but ultimately frustrating and soul-destroying work.
In early 1984, Russell Gordon, a friend of my wife’s sister, contacted me and raised the possibility of a two-year contract working at Rockingham Dental Centre.
I knew Russell socially and got on well with him, but working together is a different matter entirely. I accepted the opportunity with the intention of staying two years and then seeing how things ‘panned out’.
From early on, it was clear to our wives that we were very similar in many ways. Having both worked in the country on mobile clinics, Russell and I were used to being as self-sufficient as possible, and had each learned a lot from the isolated professional environment this work entailed. We thought (and still think) very similarly about dentistry and how to tackle particular situations, and this has helped our friendship endure for so long.
When I reflect on my 30+ years at Rockingham Dental Centre, I think it is the nature of the Rockingham patients that has been at the heart of my enjoyment here. Like me (and Russell), Rockingham people tend to be direct, honest people who don’t necessarily respond well to ‘sales pressure’, but who can evaluate very well for themselves what is in their own best interest. It is these characteristics that will keep me at Rockingham Dental Centre for a few years yet!
Dr Gerard J Parkinson, BDSc FADI FICD