Dr. RFD on Bridging the Gap Between Dental Business and Dental Practices
Urban Smile Dental Clinic’s President, Dr. Ralph Figaroa Delas Alas (Dr. RFD), innovates and combines business and dental practices for the future of the dental industry
Being a dentist was not part of the plan for the celebrity dentist and president of Urban Smiles Dental Clinic, Dr. RFD. Known as a smile maker, Dr. RFD hasn’t always been dreaming about making others smile. He originally wanted to be a medical doctor in the US, but when inspiration strikes, the heart follows.
Before becoming a dentist, Dr. RFD studied a Bachelor of Science in Biology at the University of the Philippines Baguio because of his plans to be a medical professional abroad, and it was an excellent educational and medical background start.
To strengthen and solidify his pre-medical course, Dr. RFD eventually took a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at St. Luke’s Medical Center under St. Joseph’s College of Quezon City. As a studious student who spent most of his time within the confines of his room, he passed the licensure exam for nursing. And with a renewed and stronger will, he had his master’s degree in Nursing at La Salette for four years.
Because of his brilliant mind, Dr. RFD was once a national board reviewer for nursing. “I was teaching future nurses before they took the licensure exam. So most colleges sa universities with nursing [courses], they were inviting me na mag-lecture.”
But plans change, and so does he. “My first dental visit was in college, kaya memorable sa’kin ‘yung dentist ko. I was so inspired by my dentist. Natuwa ako how she really changed my smile.” And with this thought in mind, he knew he had to become like his dentist. He wanted to change lives one smile at a time.
To make himself more unique and identifiable in the long run, he has coined his initials as Dr. RFD. The title he made for himself has become a household name, and with it comes the fame and influence to provide more of his knowledge and skills for the dental industry.
The Doctor in Business
The idea of entrepreneurship already exists in the bloodline of Dr. RFD’s family. His grandparents’ business began in wet markets where they imported seafood from different parts of the world. Growing up, Dr. RFD would hear his grandparents discuss how much they’ve earned and spent, and being an inquisitive child means trying to understand what these mean to the family.
Later on, Dr. RFD’s grandparents handed down the seafood business to his parents, and with the time he spent listening to ideas for investments, he eventually found himself selling perfumes, apparel, and skincare products to support his school finances.
So in taking up his dentistry at the University of the East and Our Lady of Fatima, Dr. RFD realized his third degree would be more meaningful if he combined it with suitable innovative approaches. “I want to bridge the gap between dental business and dental practice. What are the best materials? What are the best dental procedures? I have to know everything.”
Dr. RFD Smile did not just want to make people smile; he hoped to make Urban Smiles Dental Clinic the standard. With all the learnings he’s acquired over his academic years, Dr. RFD knows he can pass on the information he has. “I have to learn that so that someday I can train my future dentists in the clinic.”
But Dr. RFD did not do it alone. While he may be the president of Urban Smiles Dental Clinic, he is not the CEO. The CEO, Ruel Apostol, has been Dr. RFD’s business partner for managing the clinics. If Dr. RFD handles the clinical management and everything that entails dental treatments, then CEO Ruel Apostol is in charge of operational management, from supplies and rent to construction and customer service. Together, they provide better services to their patrons.
The Power of Innovation
The most essential things in being a dentist and an entrepreneur is maintaining a high standard and observing the proper protocols. Innovation is also important to him: “It’s to keep me abreast with the trends and technological advancements in dentistry. That’s why I’m attending a lot of dental conventions.”
Attending international conventions means understanding the science of technology. Dr. RFD presents himself as a student eager to learn more because he has to know the latest innovations in the dental field. He explained, “If you have that in your clinic, then you can give the best dental services to your patients.”
Urban Smiles Dental Clinic is a fast-growing dental chain in the Philippines because of a shared vision and mission between Dr. RFD, CEO Ruel Apostol, and their employees. “I want to have horizontal and vertical growth,” Dr. RFD said.
Further elaborating on the horizontal growth, Dr. RFD explains the plan to “open more than 35 dental clinics across the Philippines and the Asia Pacific.” And in attending dental training internationally, he’s also learned that he wants his clinic to grow vertically.
“I’d want to put [up my own] dental institute, where there is a hospital, training center, and a building where all of the specializations can be done. There’s one floor for dental restoration, extraction, surgery, implants, braces, pediatric patients, and cosmetic services. There’s a hotel in that institute where people can visit and stay for recovery for a day or two.”
Three Pieces of Advice
In all of his learnings in the past years, Dr. RFD only has three pieces of advice: “My advice is also the initials of my name: R for resilience, F for fortitude, and D for discipline.”
R is for resilience whenever someone does him wrong, and Dr. RFD has to do the right thing. He chose F for fortitude because he was at the peak of his nursing career as a national board reviewer when he decided to switch careers. His strong mind and courageous spirit made him the dentist he is today, and with D as discipline, he can accomplish many things. “For me, there’s always a time for everything.”
Dr. RFD also shares his mission in life: “To lead with integrity and to make a difference in the lives of others, and to fulfill this mission, I should have enthusiasm in living life, belief in oneself, high ethical standards, and commit all these to God.”