Top issues that women face in starting a private practice in Pakistan


problem women dentists face

Want to set up your own clinic and be your own boss but don’t know how?

Living in Pakistan, a country where women are not readily accepted to set up their own private practice but instead are prone to be working for someone. As a female dentist who recently finished her house-job, I myself was facing a number of issues with setting up my own clinic.

It was until the time when I was working at my male colleagues clinic, providing health care to patients, when I realized that I have the same qualification as the person running the clinic. I had a strict hourly schedule that I needed to follow regardless of personal commitments, I was answerable to any problems that arise in the vicinity and was not given the respect that I deserved vs. the respect my colleague (owner) used to receive from patients.

Regardless of having the same qualification as the owner, I was just an employee, receiving a minimum wage whereas my colleague had the rightful access to the huge profit he earned everyday for the work I did.  I successfully provided all dental treatments according to patient requirements and I was able to satisfy my patient’s needs effectively.

After working long hours, and not getting paid accordingly to the hard-work and dedication I put. Neither was I getting the perks that my fellow colleague had of not only the leisure of setting patient appointments based on your availability, the advantage of gaining profit on a daily basis but most importantly developing an arising name as a dentist in the world of dentistry in Pakistan.

So, I thought to myself , why not be my own boss, make my own name in the industry and receive the perks that I am liable to which would help me grow as a dentist. With the enthusiastic attitude and drive I had, I decided to make my own private clinic.

It wasn’t long enough till I recognized the reality and realized the lack of women equality in Pakistan, specifically in Karachi and the issues women face in starting a private practice.

The Top 5 Issues that Women face in starting a private practice includes:

1. Lack of Support from Family/Gender Inequality

Although, the world has evolved and cultures have led to people in Pakistan being a lot more open minded about gender equality and rights to women education. To a lesser extent, women still face gender inequality.

While, our family and friends, care for us, motivate us, and have provided us with good education which lets us be entitled to the initials of “Dr” in front of our name, and have given us the acceptance of working. When it comes to starting your own business via setting up your own clinic, it is not always approved by our family members as they believe that women still need to be protected and therefore are unable to run their own business.

The only absolute solution for facing this dilemma, is simply , convincing your family, answering the queries and worries they have with you setting up  your practice and giving them the confidence that you are able to be independent.

Life has evolved from being dependent on your parents, siblings or spouse, to becoming an independent entrepreneur. The advantage of your parents providing you with good education and giving you the authority to work, reflects the aspect of treating you equally to a man. With constant re-assurance you are able to change their mindset about women setting up their own private clinic, and with this independence you are able encourage other female dentists for setting up their own clinic to have achieve the gender equality rights we are liable to.

It’s time for change in Karachi, and it starts with YOU! If you have the confidence, eagerness and drive to be your own boss, convincing and getting acceptance is a minor obstacle that every independent female dentist is bound to face.

2. Finding the Right Location

Once, you have gotten the acceptance from your family for setting up your clinic, you then try to find a proper location for your clinic. This is one of the key aspects in setting up a successful clinic, in a place like Karachi, and with the growing number of dentists graduating every year. It is not unusual to have a dentist in every town.

We have this stereotype in our heads, that the more commercial the area, the greater response. That is not necessarily true, if you are a good dentist with good skills and you live in a non-commercial area, people who have heard of your work will definitely go the extra mile and come to you. Your success as a dentist is not dependent on where you open up your clinic but it is the clinical skills and patient satisfaction that makes you a successful dentist.

With this in mind, as a female, although our main priorities revolve around running our household, and caretaking for our family and kids, we need to manage our work and household duties effectively. With that in mind, the best solution would be to set up your clinic, relatively close to your home. This helps you manage your time more efficiently as you don’t have to waste hours in traffic and with an emergency you are able to attend to it with allot more ease. This provides a safety measure for females as well, as in case of any emergency, you are able to get help a lot faster. With day to day situations that take place In Karachi, it is always of benefit to take security measures

3. Not being able to set up an appropriate budget & Not knowing where to invest your money

Let’s face it, when it comes to bargaining at the stores for cloth, or grocery shopping and finding all the sales, when it comes to setting up a clinic, and finding the right price and/or sales, us girls unfortunately lack  that knowledge.

First things first, deciding a budget. Often because we do not know the market value of things, we tend to overspend and spend on unnecessary things that just may flatter us but would not give any service to us. For instance,  the first thing I went to look for after the decision I made to set up a clinic, was antique furniture for the waiting area, beautiful cabinets for my clinic, flattering wall papers and blinds for the windows. It was until then, when I realized that I spent half of my budget I had kept for my clinic on unnecessary things that would just add to the ambiance but would not provide any service to my patients. Due to the lack of budget, I could only afford an old dental chair, a noisy huge compressor, a second hand autoclave among other essentials. Had I researched on the market value of instruments and machines, and not spent unnecessarily on the ambiance of the clinic I would have been able to afford top of the line machines and instruments that would aid in the advancement of my skills as a dentist.

This is where we go wrong, we often get carried away by focusing on our feminine side, and forget the importance of providing service rather than providing just an atmosphere for my patients I would have been able to satisfy my patients allot efficiently.

The first thing you must do , is research on what services you will be providing at your clinic, only after that you need to recognize the machines and instruments that would help you to perform these services. With that in mind, you research and find places and people that are able to send you the appropriate products. Only after you have invested your money in the services you will be providing, the balance that you have on your budget that can be further used for the atmosphere of the clinic.  This would help you generate your clinic more efficiently with more patient satisfaction.

4. Having people take you for a ride

PHEW, after convincing everyone, setting up a budget, researching on what products you need, and finding places to purchase your products, the next step Is purchasing them. It may sound like an easy process as it should be, however for females it has become unnecessarily complicated. Living in Pakistan, especially in a city like Karachi, where not a lot of females set up their own clinic. Sellers take advantage of this point and further sell you things for a high price because they feel you lack knowledge about the machinery. It has happened to me a numerous amount of times. This is where you need to stand up , have your research done and be able to make sure that you are not taken for a ride.

Often , they will give you a price that is completely absurd, and or give you a machine that is not accurately functional and further provide you with a old version of what you are paying for. When it comes to getting things done for instance, getting your plumber work, electrical work done at your clinic, or getting your room painted or wallpapered , it is common to have them tell you that the products you have purchased are non fitting for the surface, and you will need to invest more. Or for instance  the pipeline has to be changed, or the electrical wires have to be upgraded or just plain excuses for increasing the pay and having you pay extra for no reason. This gender inequality exists, and people feel it is very easy to take you for a ride. These are some of the issues you are bound to face as a female trying to set up your clinic.

5. Lastly, Not knowing how to set up your clinic

After running around, getting everything put together, and purchasing your equipment, then comes setting up your clinic appropriately that enacts safety measures.

We, often do not understand some critical points of safety and health, for instance: the window never should be blocked for appropriate ventilation in case of a leak. Windows should not be covered with blinds as daylight in dentistry is crucial to providing good esthetic procedures. Your clinic should not be claustrophobic, that can cause patient anxiety and suffocation. There should always be room to move around . You should appropriate safety exits, in case of an emergency. With regards to sterilization and disinfection, it should be done separately to avoid cross contamination. Your autoclave should be kept in a separate place from your working field to provide appropriate safety measures. These all are part of the health and safety act and should be performed appropriately for the safety of the patient.  

I’m sure there are a lot more problems that female face in Karachi, when starting up their own private clinic, but from what I have been through, these are the top 5 that I have seen and I feel females should be knowledgeable about. But a very small price to pay when you are knowledgeable about these when you want to be your own boss!

women clinic in pakistan

Dr. Maliha Sobani is Marketing Manager at Dental Shoppe and heads Women Dentistry Initiative in Karachi. For more information related to Women Dentistry Initiative please email us at