Weighing In with Dr. Abdullah Al Qaraghuli

In Launchpad by Dental Entrepreneur

I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Abdullah Al Qaraghuli, a recent graduate from the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine and a current resident in their AEGD program. He is known on social media for running his page @dentalimpressions, which highlighted his journey throughout dental school and residency. 

When did you start the account?

I initially started a channel on Youtube because I struggled with figuring out my application and applying to dental school was a nightmare of deadlines, written portions, and supplemental applications. After a few videos, I realized creating video content for someone that was inexperienced in social media, while in dental school is not sustainable and my alternative was to start @dentalimpressions on Instagram. I started content creating my first semester of dental school in 2017. 

I decided I would interview a diverse group of dental students that had different routes into dental school to show that there is no formula for a dental applicant. You can be any major you want with any background as long as you fulfill the requirements of each school you’re applying to. 

What are some brands you’ve worked with?

Most of my deals were between the 2nd and 3rd year of dental school, but then Covid-19 put a halt on many companies and their plans. Everything was about to change and their approach was different as well. I tried promo codes in the beginning, but my personal opinion on promo codes is that they transformed me from a content creator to a salesman. Educational content creation is within the scope of the profession, but sales I found to be an unprofessional twist to healthcare. My rule with any contract is no promo codes. I currently hold a contract with Jaanuu scrubs since their founder is a health care provider and they honor their contracts. In other companies I worked with I only dealt with marketers and they forget that profit in dentistry comes second to patient care, and professional boundaries are stricter than what they are used to. Unfortunately, some dental students and dental professionals seem to be forgetting that what they post online portrays not only themselves but also our profession. 

What are your plans for the future?

My residency is almost over and my plan is to pursue an associate position in private practice. I was fortunate that my residency program was heavy on current and future dental practices with a design based on private practice. I chose not to pursue a hospital-based residency because, although it comes with interesting cases, I did not find that approach to be the best for me since my interest was private practice. The current pace of residency is beyond insane and the cases are complex with a complex patient population, but it is exhilarating as much as it is exhausting. Working 8am to 4pm every day will take a physical toll, but I also still do the vast majority of my lab work, although we do not have to do any lab work in the program. I usually wake up at 5am and I don’t get home until 7pm. I have formulated a routine and it helps make my life more efficient so I am able to perform everything I plan to perform in a sustainable fashion. But my plans next year are to teach part-time at UB and work in private practice full time.

Any advice for any budding dental Instagrammers?

Remember the fees you are paying for dental school. A company that is using your name, your face, and your hard work will have to pay not just in scrubs or items that cost them little to make. It is not just a picture and a post. You will spend hours creating the shot, posting the shot, finding the right caption and then 48 hours of monitoring to maintain engagement. Your fees are based on your degree or the degree you’re pursuing, the 48 hours you’ll spend on engagement and the stress of the content created, so if you think the value of your time is just a pair of scrubs, then go ahead and do it. You are worth more than what they are paying or not even paying, most of the time. 

What I said earlier however comes with an important disclaimer. You are not to make your page for money, otherwise your image will be distorted and the authenticity will be less valuable. If you work with every toothbrush company that comes your way the heavy hitters won’t hire you as readily, since you will advertise anything, so your word versus the people that keep an authentic image are of different values. Do not start Instagram for the money, start it for you to express your personal opinions and develop a virtual print. Your online presence is your patient’s first impression. Make sure it is favorable to your patients as well, not just your individual taste, because when you signed up to be a healthcare professional you were aware that your patients will come first then yourself. Finally, have fun on social media! If it stresses you out, then don’t do it. Social media should only help you not add more stress to your stressful life.