Q&A with POS Instructor Dr. Jacques Cilliers | Growing an ortho practice from the ground up

Posted by POS Course Adviser on 4/18/18 12:12 PM

Dr. Jacques Cilliers helped bring the POS program to his hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa five years ago, and has been running the program ever since. In 2018 we were proud to welcome him to the POS Instructor family. Get Dr. Cilliers' unique perspective on GP orthodontics in this interview. 


CRYSTAL SHIMABUKURO: Hi! We're here at the POS headquarters in sunny California and we have a very special guest with us today, Dr. Jacques Cilliers. He flew all the way over from Johannesburg, South Africa to be with us this weekend. He is running one of our fastest growing POS locations and as of last month he is one of our newest POS instructors. So today I'm proud to introduce my good friend, Dr. Jacques Cilliers.

DR. JACQUES CILLIERS: Thanks, Crystal.

CRYSTAL: I have a couple quick questions for you. We were chatting today and you mentioned that you're growing your ortho business and it's now about half of your practice. I'm curious how did you get into ortho?

DR. CILLIERS: Well tomorrow it's been five years since we started the location in South Africa. I can't believe it's five. I sent you an email back then and asked you if there are any locations close to South Africa to do the POS course. POS was introduced to me by a friend of mine that did the course in Holland and through we brought the course to South Africa. We’re starting a class this month which will be the sixth class that we started up. We have now about more than 50 graduates in South Africa all doing ortho which is amazing. And it's not just South Africa, it's the whole of Africa. We've got students from Zimbabwe, from Kenya, Nigeria, Botswana, like your president will say "Nambia." We've got people from Namibia as well and then from South Africa.

CRYSTAL: So when you were a student five years ago or so, how was it starting cases without having much background?

DR. CILLIERS: Well I started ortho knowing nothing of ortho. The most that I knew about fixed orthodontics was the bit that they taught me at dental school. Through POS I've learned everything that I know about ortho. If you put in the time, I mean everything is out there. They've got good educational material to study from, good videos that you can watch. The best thing about POS is they've got SmileStream, it is just amazing. It helps you to diagnose your cases. Then as well the support that POS offers, that's the best part to help you start your ortho practice.

CRYSTAL: I thought you had a very interesting perspective. You were a student of POS and graduated. You've met hundreds of dentists in Africa who are interested in ortho and now you're a POS instructor so you have a well-rounded perspective of ortho. I know you've met a lot of POS graduates as well as other dentists who've taken ortho from other courses. Do you have any perspective on what would make a GP or general dentist successful in ortho?

DR. CILLIERS: I think if we look at orthodontics in a GP practice, it’s the place where the patients come to see the dentist. That's the person they see over the years so they build a relationship with the dentist. I think the best thing about it is you can offer ortho in your practice, you can offer it any time of day, any day of the week. In South Africa, the orthodontists just go to certain places on a certain day and it's on a Thursday. They are in this area and it's not always possible for that person to go there at that time. With you, you can do it anytime in your practice. Plus, ortho isn't that difficult to do so if you are willing to learn ortho you can do it. If you put your mind to it, you can learn it.

CRYSTAL: I know you were one of the superstar students in your class several years ago. In the Internet Assisted Training (IAT) format I know there's a lot of studying, a lot of dedication to be successful. Do you have any tips for someone who's thinking about studying more online? How did you do it and get on top?

DR. CILLIERS: I think the IAT is actually a very good format. It only takes you out for six days, well actually two days per year out of your practice which is mainly the Friday. The main thing is you have to put the time in after hours. You can work the whole day and then if you just put an hour, two hours a day in for about four days a week, I mean you can do it. It's basically to manage your time. That's what the most important thing is. If you do your time management very well, you will be successful.

CRYSTAL: A lot of doctors always ask about the money. And how much is it? Is it worth it? Is it too expensive? I know you're really good at business analysis. Do you have any comments on ortho in your practice and the finances?

DR. CILLIERS: What you're saying there is everybody thinks it's expensive. But I mean when we finish high school and we want to go to dental school you have to think finances as well. You have to put in five years of your time and a lot of money. Now in South Africa they did a study and they said that doing dentistry at university is one of the most expensive courses. They said it costs you a million rand in order to become a dentist. Now that's a lot of money. If I would tell you, you will have to take out a study loan for that and you have to pay that off for five years that's a long time. But if you think about the ortho course, you just have to treat seven patients, and you can do that while you're studying. So even before you finish your course, your ortho education is paid for. You don't come out of dental school and you treat seven patients and you paid for dental school. So basically, you have the opportunity to add something to your dental education that will increase your earning potential tremendously and that's the thing that we as dentist sometimes miss. Having a bit of a discussion with the class that we just finished in February now, they are quite a young class, and I said to them I wish that I did this course about ten years ago.That would have changed my life much more, but it's never too late to learn. So the earlier you start, the better for you.

CRYSTAL: You mentioned something interesting, in South Africa if you start seven cases that pays for your tuition and the materials. Would you say that a lot of dentists in the program start seven cases?

DR. CILLIERS: Yes, we've got a student, she has finished now, I think she's got about 80 active cases. But I mean she's just doing ortho and I think the thing is when you have a passion for something, you enjoy it. People see that and then they want to come to you. The funny thing is, and you never believe it when they tell you that, and I also didn't believe it, that once you start doing ortho, you'll maybe start ten cases the first year, but that's ten cases that you have out there. Those people talk. They talk to their friends, the mums talk and then they ask where do you get your ortho. At this stage, doing ortho for five years, most of my people come in from referrals. It's quite amazing to see how the people that you're busy doing ortho on, you see the patient for two years so you talk to them. Then you find out they know this one, they know that one, and then you start to link them. Then you start to realize that, wow, people are talking and they see the quality of ortho that you do. That's the most important part because POS teaches to do good quality orthodontics.

CRYSTAL: Yeah, I know some other doctors they say they like to bracket their assistant or their hygienist and leave it on as long as they can because that's the best way to get free marketing.

DR. CILLIERS: That also works. For me, my dental assistant, she's got a kid 13 years of age and so we did ortho for her kid as well. Actually as we did ortho on her kid then all of his friends started to come in and the moms ask her about ortho because her kid’s got ortho and it just grows. It just grows. Ortho, if you just find yourself about five or ten patients, the ortho practice will grow itself.

CRYSTAL: Thank you so much Jacques for being here with us we really appreciate your time.

DR. CILLIERS: Thank you for having me.

Questions about getting started with orthodontics? Ask us in the comments!

Topics: POS Instructor Tips, Economics of Orthodontics, Current POS Students, New POS Students, IAT

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