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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 136-140

Career intentions, choices, and motivation of undergraduate dental students toward dentistry

1 Department of Pediatric and Preventive Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission24-Mar-2022
Date of Decision11-May-2022
Date of Acceptance13-May-2022
Date of Web Publication23-Jun-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Abhishek Mehta
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/amhs.amhs_61_22

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Students studying healthcare related professional courses like dentistry are future role models and leaders of our society. It is imperative that only interested and motivated candidates join dental profession because of amount of time and resources involved. The aims of this survey were to study the intentions, motivation, and selection of dentistry as a profession by the dental students. Data was collected through a self-administered questionnaire survey was conducted among 500 undergraduate dental students and interns of two government (n = 250) and one private dental college (n = 250) located in National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi, India. Majority of respondents were females and were residing in urban area. Students of government dental college were significantly more inclined to continue with their profession. Oral and maxillofacial surgery was the most sought after branch of dentistry to pursue post-graduation by the study participants. This study highlighted some important factors for selecting and continuing dentistry as a profession. Majority of students indicated that dentistry was not their first choice of career. There is a need to educate students about their preferred career choices and its future aspects before joining the course.

Keywords: Career choice, dental students, dentistry, questionnaire

How to cite this article:
Siddiqui M, Sultan A, Mehta A, Juneja A. Career intentions, choices, and motivation of undergraduate dental students toward dentistry. Arch Med Health Sci 2022;10:136-40

How to cite this URL:
Siddiqui M, Sultan A, Mehta A, Juneja A. Career intentions, choices, and motivation of undergraduate dental students toward dentistry. Arch Med Health Sci [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 9];10:136-40. Available from: https://www.amhsjournal.org/text.asp?2022/10/1/136/347974

  Introduction Top

Factors for choosing dentistry as a career may vary among the dental students in different countries over a period of time. Motives to pursue career in dentistry can be a desire to be financially and professionally independent. Moreover, there is an assumption that the professional status of an individual also regulates its social stratum.[1]

There is a scarcity of information in developing countries on the influencing factors in choosing dentistry as a profession. Therefore, the purpose of this survey was to provide an insight into the relationship between the demographic profiles, intentions, motivations, and selection of dentistry as a profession by the dental students studying in government and private dental colleges located in Delhi-NCR region of India. Further objective of the study was to evaluate student's perceptions about different dental specialties and motives for choosing a particular dental specialty in the future for post-graduation.

  Materials and Methods Top

Study design, ethical permission, and inclusion criteria

A self–administered questionnaire survey was conducted among the undergraduate dental students and interns of dental colleges located in Delhi-NCR, India, in the academic year 2019–2020. The study protocol was reviewed and approved by the Ethical Committee of Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi (letter Number-8/5/230/JMI/IEC/2019). Permission to conduct the study was obtained from the head of the institution from all the participating colleges. The inclusion criteria were students studying in the selected colleges and who voluntarily gave written consent to participate in this study.

Study sample

The sample size for this study was calculated based on an approximate number of total students studying dentistry in various dental colleges located in Delhi-NCR. There can be approximately 6000 UG students (1st to 4th year) in 15 dental colleges at a given point of time; therefore, at 95% confidence interval and precision level (e) ±5%, the required sample size was 375.[2] Three dental colleges, two government and one private, were selected from the list of dental colleges in Delhi-NCR, to give equal representation to both types of institutions. The final study sample consisted of 500 students.

Research instrument

A self-administered, structured questionnaire was prepared for the collection of relevant data. The questionnaire content had three sections. In the first section, students provided sociodemographic characteristics such as age, gender, current year of study, and parents' level of education. The second section had a list of eight questions related to the choice of profession, reason, and motivation for choosing dentistry, awareness before joining the course, and future career plans of the students. In the last section, we asked about their choices of dental specialty after graduation and type of college for pursuing masters in dental surgery. Before starting the survey, we checked the face and content validity of the questionnaire.

Data collection

A single investigator (MS) visited the participating dental colleges on a mutually agreed date and time, and the students were briefed about the aim and objectives of the study. Informed consent from the students was taken before the survey, and the confidentiality of the information was maintained. The participants were requested to fill the recording form with the most appropriate responses and the filled questionnaires were collected back the same day.

Data management and statistical analysis

The data were analyzed using the statistical software program SPSS version 21 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). We used descriptive statistics to report percentages of respondents for selected sociodemographic variables and to describe aspects related to career choices. To evaluate the statistical differences in the responses of the students and among subgroups, Pearson's Chi-square test was applied. The level of statistical significance was set at P ≤ 0.05.

  Results Top

In total, 500 dental students participated in this questionnaire survey. The study participants were equally divided based on the type of college (i.e., 250 each in government-aided and private dental college) as well as the year of study. More than 2/3rd of the study participants were of age 21 years and above (n = 348, 69.6%) and were female (n = 353, 70.6%). There were significantly more participants of the higher age group in government dental college as compared to a private college. Furthermore, there were a significant number of more female participants in the sample from the private colleges. Most of the students were from urban areas, and there was no significant difference between the students of two colleges [Table 1].
Table 1: Baseline characteristics of the study participants

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Dentistry was not the first choice for the majority of students of both the colleges. More than 90% of government colleges did not consider dentistry as their first choice as a profession as compared to 64.4% (n = 161) of students of the private colleges (P < 0.05). When asked about the reason why they choose dentistry, the main reason was not getting admission in a medical college (n = 372, 74.4%). Here also, there was a significant difference between the responses of government and private college students. Very few students had taken an education loan for studying dentistry, and there was no significant difference between the two groups [Table 2].
Table 2: Comparison between government and private college students regarding their responses to the questions in the questionnaire

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More than 2/3rd (81.6%) of the student participants were planning to pursue dentistry after completing the BDS course. Statistically, we observed a significant difference between the responses of two colleges, where students of government-aided colleges were more inclined to continue with their profession as compared to a private college. When asked regarding their immediate plans after completing the course, slightly more than half of the students gave (51.2%) frequent response that they were going to prepare for the postgraduate entrance examination. Around 1/4th of the participants were noncommittal at the time of the study with regard to their immediate future planning. The results in the study revealed a highly significant difference between the responses of the two groups for these two questions [Table 2].

Further, a total of 256 (51.2%) participants responded positively when asked whether they are for planning to study for the postgraduate examination. The most preferred branch of the students was oral and maxillofacial surgery (n = 89, 34.7%), followed by conservative dentistry and endodontics (n = 52, 20.3%). Personal interest, job security, and financial stability were the most common reasons opted by the study participants for planning to do postgraduation. More than 2/3rd of students preferred to do postgraduation from a government-aided college. It is noteworthy that 40.4% of private college students responded that they had no particular choice for doing postgraduation when compared to only one student from a government college. More than 1/4th (n-72, 28.1%) of the students had not decided what they will do after postgraduation. Other most frequent options chosen by students were to open a specialty clinic or join an academic institution. The results showed a highly significant difference between the responses of the two groups [Table 3].
Table 3: Responses of study participants regarding future plans related to postgraduation in dentistry

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  Discussion Top

The present study explored the career intentions, choices, and motivations of undergraduate dental students studying in dental colleges of Delhi-NCR, India. In our study, dentistry was not the first choice among 79% of the students. This finding was in contrast with various previous studies.[3],[4],[5] The majority of the participants in the present study, i.e., 74%, had chosen dentistry as an alternative to medicine; this finding was quite similar to other studies by different authors.[4],[6],[7],[8] This particular reason was found to be more prevalent among government college students. Other reasons to choose dentistry were professional fulfillment and career flexibility, influenced by the dentist, and to serve the community. These data represent that career advice is the need of this hour and it should be tailored for students before the beginning of the course since they are attracted to dentistry for a variety of reasons.

A considerably low percentage of students in the present study showed interest in pursuing an academic career. The declining interest in academic dentistry is a grave concern as this may lead to a scarcity of the teaching faculty and affect the quality of dental education. One of the findings was that 29.2% of students have yet not decided their plans after BDS, as they are confused. We may need to go for the incorporation of interactive sessions that would seek to know the mindset of the potential students. This confusion was found more among private college students than government college students. The results suggest that some students are less motivated to serve the community than fulfilling their personal goals. This finding is similar to other studies reported in the literature.[9] From the analysis of the results, we also observed a higher preference of females opting for dentistry. This “feminization” of dentistry has been reported in several other studies too.[6],[10],[11],[12]

The most preferred choice of clinical specialty among the students was oral and maxillofacial surgery followed by endodontics, prosthodontics, and orthodontics. This could also be due to the fame and lucrative returns associated with these clinical specialties. Similar findings were seen in the studies conducted by Ravi and Kumar[13] and Garla.[14] Whereas, a study by Karibe and et al.[15] reported oral surgery to be least opted branch of dentistry for postgraduation. That may be because some of the students may not bear the sight of blood, hectic schedules, and complicated procedures such as handling of maxillofacial traumas. In the present study, the least preferred were oral medicine and radiology, oral pathology, and public health dentistry. In the Indian dental education setup, public health dentistry is considered a nonclinical dental branch and is given less priority for pursuing postgraduation.[16] Even in the medical literature, the graduates prefer surgery more than other specialties perhaps because of the perceived prestigious status among medical specialties.[17] Ohaeri et al.[18] in a study on medical reported that radiology, community medicine, and anesthesia were the least considered for further studies by medical residents. The results of our study show that government dental colleges are the most preferred choice among the majority of students (66%) for pursuing MDS. The fees structure and reputation of government dental colleges could be the reason for the preference by the study participants.

This study is not without flaws. As this is a cross-sectional survey limited to two dental colleges of North India, these results may not reflect a general trend of the Indian dental students toward their course and future career preferences. The questionnaire should have been validated beyond face and content validity.

  Conclusion Top

The findings of this study raised some important concerns. First, students who are not aware of their future perspectives of their chosen field should be provided with counseling before joining the course. It is palpable that students should be guided and counseled at school level to make conscious and educated decisions in terms of choosing a professional career. Second, an educational program is the need of the hour, where students, teachers, and parents are enlightened about the career choices and future opportunities.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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