The traditional learning tools for dentists and doctors have been books and lectures. But the next crop of dentists is learning from social, peer-based channels. One popular medium is the ‘Endohaveli’ Facebook group, which involves over 48,000 professionals. We got a chance to interview the group’s founder Dr. Rahul Bisht.
Tell us about your early career
My hometown is in Gwaldam, Uttarakhand, but because of my father’s posting I did my schooling in Arunachal Pradesh and then in Jammu and Kashmir. I completed my BDS from King George’s Medical University, Lucknow in 2007. I was not too keen on dentistry at that point in time, and was interested in doing an MBA. However, I did not put much effort in preparing for an MBA, and returned to Dehradun, where my father moved after retirement. My father, who did not know much about dentistry, gave me Rs. 8000 to build my career.
With limited money and guidance, I decided to join a dental college in Uttarakhand, where I worked as a BDS staff for a salary of Rs. 6000 for the next 1.5 years. This was a bitter experience and increased my frustration toward the field. After that, I worked under Dr. Mukesh Dhanda in Dehradun for a year and in trust hospitals for some time, but couldn’t make more than Rs. 20,000 per month.
In 2011 I got a government job in Uttarakhand, but due to limited scope and facilities, I left the job to establish my private practice in Tehri, Uttarakhand. This was a big step for me since a government job was a big deal for my family and friends. I converted a garage into a clinic, and named it King George’s Goodwill Clinic, inspired by the name of my college. In 2012, I applied to Srinagar Medical college, Uttarakhand and got recruited and worked as a junior resident for 1 year and senior resident for the next 3 years. During this time, I used to visit my clinic in Tehri on weekends.
In 2015, due to the change in the government norms, I lost my job. This was also a difficult time for me personally as we lost our first-born child. Both I and my wife Smriti were shattered and confined ourselves to a single room for about 8 months. Over time, we started focusing on our clinic and upgraded the clinic with advanced equipment.
How did Endohaveli happen?
Life in hills is quite boring, with limited means of recreation. Once my wife showed me the Facebook page the World Dental Association. I think that was the turning point in my life. I liked the page and came across similar pages on Facebook. Over time, I got motivated and started posting cases performed in my clinic. Through this, I was able to connect, learn, and appreciate the work of dental practitioners across the world. I also became an ardent follower of the work of Dr. Thomas Lazaridis, a Greece-based dentist. I consider him my mentor for life.
I started posting cases along with the names of newly-bought products/equipment. People thought I am trying to advertise the products of various companies and started offering jobs for marketing their products. Slowly I started studying groups and gained knowledge about dental product supplies and marketing. Then I got introduced to RUBBER DAM which changed dentistry for me. I wanted people to know about its advantages and felt the need to create a common platform to spread the benefits of various products, share personal experience, and also resolve commonly-experienced issues in clinical practice.
This exposure sowed the seeds of creating a WhatsApp group and eventually a Facebook group of my own. I shared this idea with close friends and started a group with 200 people in 2017. Initially, we called it Khurana Group. The name was inspired by the property dealer I worked with for a brief period, frustrated with my prospects in dentistry. Through the group, I connected with new people in the fields of dentistry and dental materials marketing.
The focus of the group was cases relevant to Endodontics, so I named it Endohaveli. On a lighter note, the word ‘Haveli’ was inspired by a famous dialogue by Bollywood actor Amrish Puri, “Aao Kabhi Haveli pe.” To me, a Haveli is mansion: full of ideas, reviews, tips, products, and is open to people and their queries.
For the first 5-6 months, I had kept a cartoon as the display picture of the group. To expand the audience of the group and give it a unique identity, we got a logo.
Why does the group focus on Endodontics?
Endodontics as a subject always fascinated me. It involves a lot of gadgets and equipment, it is more catchy, connects well with dentists, and people can appreciate results better. I also felt the focus on one subject or specialty yields better results than trying ones hand in all the fields.
For those who don’t know, please tell us briefly about all the activities of the group
In this group, we try to resolve the case-based queries of members. We also give reviews and encourage people to share their experiences related to instruments/equipment or any other dental materials.
We have introduced the concept of providing unique IDs to the dealers (after a thorough authentication procedure) to eliminate any fraudulent activities. Dealers of the products can give a review of their products only after receiving IDs. We have introduced the concept of ‘haveli deals’ in which dental materials (including instruments and equipment) at really good deals are introduced by various dental materials marketing teams once in a week for a specific time duration. By this, we encourage the use of quality materials at judicious cost and boost sales of a company dealer as well.
We have also started a ‘Haveli freeze’ program wherein for a day all the posts in the group are paused and a mentor enlightens members on a given topic. Following this, relevant questions can be asked by the members. This encourages peer-based learning and also increases popularity of the mentor.
Another unique program is ‘My mentor‘ which is a free educational program in which people who conduct Endo courses can promote their course by giving a free seat to any beginner of our group. Through this we are trying to benefit all the young practitioners who want to learn Endodontics. We are also trying to bridge the gap between the clinicians and dealers. For example, a clinician sitting in any part of the country can contact and avail the services of any dealer of the desired products. As a team we are working on various aspects which can make the life of a clinician better.
You said you started with ~200 members and now you have more than 48,000 members. How did you build engagement for the group?
I am a restless soul. I easily get bored with mundane life. So every day I try to make this group interesting and more engaging by introducing different activities.
For example, we introduced a ‘haveli contest’ that motivates people to display their work. Once a deserving-but-not-so-famous member wins the contest; they display it on their social media platforms, and people tend to recognize their talent. Meanwhile, people unfamiliar with our group get to know about it, which helps in grow our brand. We also reward people who are active in resolving queries of people. We have named this award the Pankaj Sain award, created in loving memory of Mr. Pankaj who helped us with ‘haveli deals’ in the initial days.
The uniqueness of the group is we have given the charge of administration in the hands of people who are responsible, dedicated, and take pride in being part of this group. I am lucky to have a great support team.
How does a day in the life of Rahul Bisht look like?
Most of my spare time goes to my family and the Endohaveli group. I have two little twins, Chia and Piku. I work in an ex-army hospital in Tehri in morning. In evenings, I am in my own clinic. Other than that, I am completely engrossed in posting on Endohaveli and active in solving members’ queries. I haven’t watched TV in the past 2-3 years.
Given the huge popularity of Endohaveli, have you tried your hands in organizing events?
I had organized first event for my mentor, Dr. Thomas Lazaridis in New Delhi. Without any prior experience of organizing even a small party, I had announced a mega event. Though I was skeptical initially, it turned out to be a houseful event. Through this event Endohaveli got recognition among people and created an emotional bond.
We did another similar event with Dr. Thomas Lazaridis in Mumbai. The best part about it was that the doctors voluntarily helped and invited students from their locality. They made this event a grand success with participation of over 200 students. Organizing an event in Mumbai sitting in Uttarakhand was a cakewalk, all because of the love and trust of members in Endohaveli.
In one of the events in Varanasi, I met an oral surgeon who had managed to get 25 students by himself for the event. He was so happy with our group that he encouraged people to participate in the event. I was also surprised by the active participation of students from North East who are devout followers of the group.
You talk about your personal bond with the people of the group. How do you keep the energy going?
On average I speak to 10 people in a day. I try my best to resolve their queries or guide the younger generation related to establishment of clinic or career in dentistry. During my tenure under Dr. Mukesh in Dehradun I realized more than 50% of patients visiting him reside in the hills. Another time on my trip to the hills with a friend, I realized more demand and less supply of oral health practitioners. So I realized early on about the untapped market in the hills and recommended doctors to set up clinics there. I gave confidence to them when they were not as successful and now have become giants in the field. It gives me immense level of satisfaction.
“Din bhar main khushi tab milti hai jab aap accha kaam karte ho, na sirf paise kamate ho.”
What are the behavioral changes you observe among members of Endohaveli?
One major change I observed is the improvisation in the ways of practicing dentistry. Mainly general practitioners and different specialty practitioners have started using Rubber Dam for isolation and adopted rotary Endodontics, which a few years back was mainly followed by Endodontists.
The members who have been practicing using conventional methods from a long time are now open to upgrading their practice. A few of them have already started using microscopes. Even the sales of rubber dam and rotary equipment have increased and the files which we market have turned out to be the highest selling products. Members are actively posting their cases and are abiding by the standard protocols of the treatment. People have also started focusing more on quality care and are familiar with a greater number of brands.
Has Endohaveli been financially rewarding for you?
I don’t generate any considerable revenue. But I do get lot of equipment from different companies to review. A similar question was asked to me by people at IIM Indore, where I went as a guest lecturer. They were surprised to know the same. I believe in my father’s words who said, “Things done with selfless motives have higher reach and greater yield.’’ Endohaveli is a selfless concept. I’m just trying to maintain the authenticity of the group without expecting any monetary benefits.
A lot of young dentists in the profession are clueless and struggling. What is your message to them?
I would say in this competitive age, try to adopt a blue ocean strategy i.e. try to do things that are different from others. For example, you can think of starting up a practice in lesser explored places (hills/ rural areas) instead of highly competitive, saturated cities. Think of innovative ideas to reinvent and upgrade your practice. Stay positive and grab the opportunities that come your way. Don’t play low or downgrade your name for short term benefits. Keep in touch with people and be involved in a lot social activities.
If you are interested in clinics then you should always focus on one thing and upgrade your skills in that. Initially with money constraints you can start with small set up and then expand gradually. Multitasking is difficult. So you can call specialists for other fields for better customer experience and satisfaction.
Dentistry is a product-based science, unless you buy the products you can’t adopt advanced means of working.
“Agar samaan hi nahi hai toh knowledge ka kya karenge?”
Besides marketing the clinic, what else can a dentist do to increase their visibility in the community?
India is a referral-based country. Developing soft skills and personal relationships are essential to grow. To establish a clinic, it is important to have a dynamic personality with realistic goals. You need to develop a rapport with nearby people or politicians/ influencers. It helps if you are socially active and join rotary clubs or become part of community-related work. Once you are a known face within the group/club then it is easier for people to approach you. Delivering a quality treatment along with excellent soft skills can do wonders to your practice.
What advice would you give to people who are not inclined toward dentistry?
If somebody feels he or she is not performing well clinically then they should be open to all different fields. You can do multiple things to make your ends meet instead of sitting idle in a clinic. There is lot of scope in the dental materials marketing as well.
I do understand that there is lot of saturation in the field. Even government or concerned authorities have turned apathetic to our current situation. When we know the system is not going to change then why don’t we adapt ourselves and look for better prospects in areas less explored within or outside our field?
How has your experience been with practicing in rural India?
There is lot of scope of dental practice in rural India. Over here in the hills the patients are less demanding. They are more emotionally inclined. For example, my wife, who works as senior dentist in government hospital in Khadi, Uttarakhand is quite popular among people. Especially for extractions, people prefer her not just for us skills but also for her soft-spoken and humble nature.
What should practitioners look for before joining a workshop or a course?
You can take feedback from people who have already attended a course and decide on the same. I feel even a general dentist who is good at Endodontics can become a great mentor. A mentor should be a lifelong guide, not just for the duration of the course. To me Dr. Thomas Lazaridis is one such mentor. It’s not always about how much he knows, it’s also about his dedication to solve your doubts, or even find the solutions for you.
It is the season of new year resolutions. What are your plans for the new year?
I want to practice micro Endodontics. I am using loupes and have plans of buying a microscope this year. Regarding the Endohaveli group, we want to continue resolving even minute queries relevant to clinical practice, even if it is compressor-related or a technical issue regarding any product or equipment. We are also trying to include a service platform for the dental products purchased. Through this dealer can get an insight of the performance of their products/services and know more about areas of improvisation.
About Dentistry Insider
At Dentistry Insider, we help bridge the information asymmetry as dental professionals navigate various challenges that come in way of their professional lives. As you explore the site, you will find valuable guidance from experts and the discipline’s stalwarts, and insights from experiences of fellow dentists who have pursued very different interests.
Dentistry Insider is an initiative of Dr. Shilpy Bhandari. She has completed her MDS from Bapuji Dental College and Hospital, Davangere, Karnataka and has worked extensively across dental clinics of all sizes — from small, independent setups to large corporate chains. Several of her academic research papers have been published in national and international journals. She lives with her husband in Hyderabad.
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