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Table of Contents   
ORIGINAL RESEARCH  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 32  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 153-157
Assessment of the factors influencing dental students to choose dentistry as a career: A cross-sectional survey


1 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Bharati Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be University) Dental College and Hospital, Sangli, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Faculty of Dental Sciences, IMS, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
3 Department of Prosthodontics, Bharati Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be University) Dental College and Hospital, Sangli, Maharashtra, India
4 Department of Oral Pathology, Bharati Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be University) Dental College and Hospital, Sangli, Maharashtra, India
5 Department of Public Health Dentistry, AECS Maaruti College of Dental Sciences and Research Center, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

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Date of Submission15-May-2019
Date of Decision23-Jan-2020
Date of Acceptance05-Mar-2021
Date of Web Publication22-Nov-2021
 

   Abstract 


Objective: Career choice, one of the most important process in a student's life, has an influence on his/her future life. Hence, it is important to understand student's motives behind choosing a specific career. Hence, the study was designed with an aim to evaluate the factors influencing dental students to choose dentistry as career. Methods: The present cross-sectional survey was conducted on 401 dental students from a dental institute. The data was collected using a structured questionnaire consisting of 13 reasons that possibly influenced students' decision to study dentistry. Data collected was analyzed using SPSS 20 software. Results: Majority of the students participating were female (77.1%). Top four reasons to choose dentistry as a profession were to help poor people (95.5%), to earn prestige and respect (95.0%) followed by self-interest (94.7%) and study of human parts especially teeth (92.8%). Making money was the reason reported by 77.8% of the students. Other reasons reported were inspiration from other dentists (63.3%), did not get admission to medicine (MBBS) course (52.1%), and no doctor in family (51.9%). Family members in medical/dental profession was the least reported reason (36.9%). There were no significant differences among males and females for reported reasons except for one reason, that is, did not get admitted to medicine (MBBS) course (60.9% male and 48.9% female; P = 0.031). Conclusion: Students were mostly influenced by own interest and altruistic nature to opt for dental profession.

Keywords: Career choice, dentistry, motivations, questionnaires and surveys

How to cite this article:
Karagir A, Khairnar MR, Adaki S, Dhole RI, Patil MC, Ingale A. Assessment of the factors influencing dental students to choose dentistry as a career: A cross-sectional survey. Indian J Dent Res 2021;32:153-7

How to cite this URL:
Karagir A, Khairnar MR, Adaki S, Dhole RI, Patil MC, Ingale A. Assessment of the factors influencing dental students to choose dentistry as a career: A cross-sectional survey. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Nov 29];32:153-7. Available from: https://www.ijdr.in/text.asp?2021/32/2/153/330852



   Introduction Top


A career is an individual's metaphorical “journey” through learning, work, and other aspects of life. Therefore, career could be seen as a lifetime pursuit of an individual. Career choice is one of the most significant decisions in life, since it will have impact throughout life. Career choice is one of the most difficult decisions in any student's life. It involves many factors which are intricately intertwined. It is not a forthright task and involves a challenging process of decision making. It is difficult for anyone to make a decision regarding their career.

In the ancient times, choosing a career was relatively an easy task, as the career path was mostly determined according to the family background.[1] However, in the recent times, career selection has become a complex process. Thinking about career options gives rise to many questions in students' mind like training and education required, job description, career outlook, salary, life roles, etc. Decision making regarding career choices is influenced by multiple factors such as home environment, upbringing, choices of the peers, culture, academic environment, achievements, financial constraints, prospective levels of income, employment opportunities, the social acceptability of profession, recognition, and work satisfaction.[2]

Dentistry, being a subspecialty of medicine, provides wide range of opportunities as a general dental practitioner as well as a specialist. Motivating factors behind choosing dentistry have been studied by numerous researchers worldwide.[3],[4] These factors vary from country to country and comprise of economic reasons, social status, caring for and helping other people, desire to have a healthcare occupation, family expectations, security, self-employment, prestige, etc.[4] Since these motivational factors vary over time and between countries, seeking an understanding of current motivations to enter into dentistry is important to healthcare systems and may result in major changes for policies in dental education.[5],[6] Also, it is crucial on the part of advisors and educators to learn about these influencing factors which may assist them in the assessment of dental education plan and developing a better understanding of students' reasons for opting the dental career that may facilitate an effective interaction between students and teacher. Available literature shows the dearth of research assessing the factors influencing dental students to choose dentistry as a career. Hence, the present study was undertaken with an aim to examine the factors influencing dental students to choose dentistry as career.


   Materials and Methods Top


Study design, study setting, and study population: This cross-sectional survey was conducted on a convenient sample of 401 undergraduate dental students studying at BVDU dental college, Maharashtra, India. Ethical clearance was obtained from Institutional Ethical Committee of BVDU Medical College and Hospital, Sangli (Ref No: BV (DU) MC&H/Sangli/IEC/D-13/2018). Informed consent was obtained from all the study participants after explaining them the purpose of the study.

Data collection tool: The data for the present study was collected using a pre-tested, self-administered, structured questionnaire which consisted of two sections. The first section consisted of demographic details of the participants. The second section was adopted from the study conducted by Anbuselvan et al. which consisted of a list of 13 reasons that possibly influenced students' decision to study dentistry and participants were required to indicate on a 3-point Likert scale the extent each reason influenced their choice of dentistry as a career.[7] The Likert scale responses were as follows: 1 - disagree, 2- neither disagree nor agree, and 3 – agree.

The questionnaire was pretested on a group of 15 students who were not a part of the main study. The value of Cronbach's alpha coefficient (internal consistency reliability) was 0.89 which is good. The questionnaire was again administered to the same 15 students after 10 days to determine test–retest reliability. The kappa coefficient value obtained was 0.84 which shows strong agreement between responses. Each participant was given sufficient time (on an average 1/2 hour) to fill the questionnaire. Authors tried to limit the response bias by not recording any identifiable data, and requesting participants to avoid any discussion with other participants while filling the questionnaire.

Statistical analysis

Data collected was compiled and analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS, IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY, USA) version 20. Descriptive statistics was employed to describe the demographic characteristics of the participants and factors influencing students to choose dentistry as a career. Gender-wise comparison of influential factors was performed using Chi-square test.


   Results Top


[Table 1] presents demographic details of the participants. Average age of the participants was 20.51 years. Out of 401 participants, 92 (22.9%) were male and 309 (77.1%) were female students. 129 students (32.2%) were from first year, 54 students (13.5%) from second year, 35 students (8.7%) from third year, 55 students (13.7%) from final year, and 128 students (31.9%) from internship.
Table 1: Demographic details of study participants

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[Table 2] shows the distribution of factors influencing students to choose dentistry as a career. Most common reason to choose dentistry reported was to help poor people (95.5%) and to earn prestige and respect (95.0%) followed by self-interest (94.7%) and study of human parts, especially teeth (92.8%). Dentistry, as a noble profession, was perceived by 84.8% of the students and 83.3% reported job satisfaction as the reason to choose dentistry as a career. 81.8% of the students were motivated by their parents to opt dentistry. Making money was the reason reported by 77.8% of the students. Other reasons reported were inspiration from other dentists (63.3%), did not get admission to medicine (MBBS) course (52.1%), and no doctor in family (51.9%). Family members in medical/dental profession was the least reported reason (36.9%). Other reasons reported were dentistry being equal to medicine as profession, interest in surgery, love for the profession, etc.
Table 2: Factors influencing students to choose dentistry as a career n (%)

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Gender-wise comparison [Table 3] of the responses shows no significant differences in the reasons among males and females for choosing dentistry as a career except for one reason, that is, did not get admitted to medicine (MBBS) course. 60.9% of the male students chose dentistry since they did not get admission to MBBS course as compared to 48.9% of females and this difference in reporting was significant (P = 0.031).
Table 3: Gender-wise comparison of factors influencing students to choose dentistry as a career n (%)

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   Discussion Top


It is believed that the primary motive behind choosing any profession is the basic human tendency of “making ends meet,” that is, to satisfy basic needs. However, career choices are also influenced by many other factors and few of them have a deep impact on career choices.[8] Dentistry, a noble branch of medicine, is the profession concerned with the prevention and treatment of oral disease, including diseases of the teeth and supporting structures and diseases of the soft tissues of the oral cavity.

Dentistry, as a career option in India, offers wide range of job opportunities. Dentists can seek jobs in dental departments in government or private hospitals, dental clinics, and health departments. They can also take up a teaching job in any of the dental institutions spread across the country or make a career in clinical research and advisory departments of pharmaceutical industry. They can work as consultants in companies dealing with oral care products like toothpaste, mouthwash, and gum care products. They can also seek government jobs in the Civil Hospitals, Armed Forces, Indian Railways, etc., Self-employment is also a very promising avenue; it provides the best financial prospects along with a greater level of independence.[9] Hence, the present study was conducted on dental undergraduate students to assess their reasons for choosing this profession as their career.

There were more female participants in the present study as compared to male participants (ratio 3:1) similar to that reported in the previous studies.[3],[4],[7],[10],[11] These results reflect that number of female students opting for dentistry has increased in recent years. This can be attributed to the fact that women believe that they can balance their professional career with personal life in dental profession and dentistry offers them flexible working hours to fulfil their domestic demands, achieve professional prestige and respect, financial stability, and serve the community.[12],[13]

The primary objective of this study was to assess the factors influencing dental students to choose dentistry as a career. Most commonly reported reasons were to help poor people to get deep sense of satisfaction and to earn prestige and respect and self-interest in dentistry. This shows that the social esteem linked to practicing dentistry had an influence on the minds of the students in choosing this field. In India, dentists are often referred as “Doctor” and this title naturally confers a certain amount of respect and appreciation from society. The results are similar to a studies conducted in Central India, South India, and Saudi Arabia where self-interest was the most important reason to pursue dentistry as a career among students.[4],[7],[14] A study conducted among dental students of Saudi Arabia and UAE also showed that helping people and earning prestige were most common reasons for opting dental profession.[10],[15] Altruistic motive (helping people) was the important reason reported by UK and Denmark students and was second most reported reason by Australian students.[16],[17],[18] However, similar students from UK and Denmark and students from US reported that prestige was least significant factor in their decision to study dentistry.[16],[17],[19] Study of human parts especially teeth was reported by 92.8% of the students in present study, whereas a similar study conducted in South India reported study of human parts as the least important reason.[7] This can be explained from the fact that the two individuals are not same and what may be of interest to one individual may not be of interest to others.

A study conducted by Anbuselvan et al. reported not getting admitted to medicine (MBBS) course as the second most important reason to choose dentistry,[7] whereas it was second least reported reason (52.1%) reported in the present study. Previous studies have shown that dentistry was not the main choice for most of the students and it was only an alternative to medicine course. In India, students are required to pass an admission examination with high grades for getting admitted into medicine or dentistry course. Entrance examination assesses students' knowledge in basic sciences, with emphasis being given on biology. A few Universities have an additional criterion in their entrance examination. Students have to clear the paper on Gandhian Thought for getting admission into Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Sevagram for medicine course, while Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore has reserved a quota for students who are sponsored by Christian organizations that are members of the CMC Vellore Association or Council.[20] As a result, students who do not get entry into MBBS course opt for dental profession. This calls for an amendment in admission procedure so that those students who are genuinely interested in learning dentistry should be admitted to the course and not those who choose dentistry as an alternative to MBBS course. It is important to have the understanding about the factors that affect the choice of dentistry since it may affect one's satisfaction with the career.[3]

Other reasons like earning money, motivation by parents or others, inspiration from other dentists, etc., were similar to the influential factors reported in previous studies.[4],[14],[20] This clearly reflects the profound impact of the monetary aspects on the minds of most of the students to have a better future. In India, most of the students live with their parents and a very strong bond exists among Indian families. Parents not only sponsor their children's educational expenses but also play a significant role in shaping their future career lives through influencing their choices for pursuing a specific profession, and this is not only limited to the time of admission to vocational schools but even beyond their graduation as they may play a vital role in encouraging them to carry on further post-graduation for the reasons of satisfactory income, professional reputation, and self-employment. India is a typical country having strong family values, where children pay respect to elders in every aspect of life, including paying attention to their advice and obeying them. Hence in many cases, the children are forced by their parents to pursue a career that is not of their choice.[21] One of the reasons reported to influence career choice, that is, no doctor in the family (51.9%) was similar to the study conducted by Anbuselvan et al. In India, being a first doctor in the family gives a feeling of pride to the students and also empowers the status of the family in neighborhood.

Gender-wise comparison of the influential factors showed no significant differences among males and females for all the factors assessed except for one factor, that is did not get admission to medicine course. More than half of male students (60.9%) opted for dentistry as they did not get entry into medicine course. For more than half of the female students (51.1%), dentistry was the first choice as career option rather than opting for medicine course which is evident from more number of female participants in the present study. Females, in India, usually opt for dentistry because of family factors as Indian families are of belief that this profession will serve for their qualification deeds as well as for their matrimonial purposes.

The present study shows the changing trends in field of medicine as more number of students are willingly opting for dental profession out of self-interest and with intention to help others rather than choosing medicine course. This can be attributed the reason that dentistry itself is a specialty field of medicine offering a wide range of opportunities to its aspirants. The students, who have manual skills, can showcase their artistic talent by choosing dentistry as career. In the past, having a dental/medical professional in the family usually was the encouraging factor for the students to choose same profession as of their family members[20]; however, this trend has now changed and can be seen from the responses in the present study where only 36.9% of the students chose dentistry because of this particular reason. Similar responses were seen in a study conducted in 2015 in Central India.[14]

The limitation of this study is that the study sample is not the representative of all the Indian students pursuing dentistry. The study sample was limited to one dental institution only. Other factors influencing career choices such as socioeconomic status, education, and profession of the parents, influence of high-school education on the students, etc., were not assessed. Hence, further investigations are needed involving a larger population belonging to different institutions where students may have other influential reasons. All the reasons for choosing dentistry as a career must be assessed and analyzed together when planning the dental curriculum for future dental workforce, in order to ensure that the ever evolving needs of the population are met adequately.


   Conclusion Top


It can be concluded from the study that students have been opting for dentistry more out of self-interest and altruistic motives rather than an alternative to medicine course and monetary gains. This clearly shows the change in attitude of the students which may be beneficial in their future academic performances and will further help in betterment of the patients.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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Correspondence Address:
Dr. Mahesh Ravindra Khairnar
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Faculty of Dental Sciences, IMS, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijdr.IJDR_407_19

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