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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 194-198

Dentistry as a career: Motives and perception of dental students attending Dental Colleges in Bengaluru city, Karnataka, India

1 Department of Public Health Dentistry, KGF College of Dental Sciences, Kolar, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Public Health Dentistry, The Oxford Dental College and Hospital, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Oral Pathology, GDCRI, Dr. Shymala Reddy Dental College and Research Institute, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
4 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Dr. Shymala Reddy Dental College and Research Institute, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication15-Nov-2014

Correspondence Address:
M Rashmi
KGF College of Denatal Sciences, Kolar, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2319-5932.144796

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Introduction: The present study reflects a profile of dental students and their attitudes toward dentistry. Aim: The aim was to determine the motives and perceptions of undergraduate and postgraduate dental students attending Dental Colleges in Bangalore city. Subjects and Methods: All the Dental Colleges in the Bangalore city were included in this study. The students were asked to complete a questionnaire consisting 25 questions. The influence of certain factors was scored on a scale from 1 to 9. Kruskal-Wallis test and Mann-Whitney test. Results: Two hundred and thirty-three (38.83%) students had dentistry as a first choice. In the present study, "caring profession" (94.33%) and private practice (25.6%) were the motives for choosing dentistry. Factor analysis was performed for Q9-23; the 15 questions were grouped under five factors: Influence, profession, flexibility, remuneration, and versatility. The level of agreement scores decreased from 1 st year B.D.S students to post graduate students. Conclusions: For selecting dentistry as a career job security, caring profession, flexibility, self-employment and prestigious profession were found to be important motivating and perception factors. Majority of students indicated that dentistry was not their first choice of career. Hence, it may be a good idea to establish educational programs in colleges to educate students on their career choices.

Keywords: Career, dentistry, motives, questionnaires, students

How to cite this article:
Rashmi M, Virjee K, Yadava T S, Vijayakumar N, Shoba M. Dentistry as a career: Motives and perception of dental students attending Dental Colleges in Bengaluru city, Karnataka, India. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2014;12:194-8

How to cite this URL:
Rashmi M, Virjee K, Yadava T S, Vijayakumar N, Shoba M. Dentistry as a career: Motives and perception of dental students attending Dental Colleges in Bengaluru city, Karnataka, India. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2014 [cited 2023 May 29];12:194-8. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/aphd/pages/default.aspx/text.asp?2014/12/3/194/144796

  Introduction Top

Dentists occupy an important position in society as professional health care workers. The opportunity to participate in dental education in many countries, especially in the developing ones, is limited to a small percentage of the community. [1]

Motives for choosing a career are complex, and a choice of dentistry as a career is no exception. Many factors may enter while deciding on a career choice. These include factors related to work conditions and financial rewards, security and status, nature of occupation, working with people, use of personal or manual skills and interest in science and research. [2]

Motivations for choosing dentistry have been studied in many countries. A range of reasons has been mentioned including status and security, the nature of occupation, patient care and working with people. The reasons for choosing dentistry as a career has been carried out in developed countries such as the France, Middle East, Australia, Ireland, Nigeria, USA and Japan. [2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9] Students in the US reported self-employment and business-related motives as important, [8] and in Ireland, perceived ease of employment, being self-employed, working regular hours and good income and the opportunity to help people were reported as reasons for entering the profession. [6]

In addition, motivations related to gender have also been investigated. Results of a study in the US showed that there were differences between male and female students in their motivation. Females were less concerned than male students with the business component of choosing a career and more concerned with caring and people factors. [10] This was similar to the investigation of 1 st -year dental students in Peru. [1]

In India, the dentistry program is for 5 years. Entrance to the program depends on results of the common entrance tests or its equivalent. The students should be good in their academics to enter into dentistry. There is limited information on the career choices of students in developing nations, with few studies investigating career motivations of an Indian population, and hence the study was conducted to determine the motives and perceptions of dental students.

Aim of the study

To determine the motives and perception of dental students, attending Dental Colleges in Bangalore city.

  Subjects and methods Top

List of Dental Colleges in Bangalore city was obtained from the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences website. Sixteen dental colleges were present. All the colleges were considered for the study; the study group included both undergraduates and post graduate students. Of 16 dental colleges, the present study was conducted in 15 Dental Colleges of Bangalore city as one college did not permit to conduct the study in their premises reasons best known to them. The required permission to carry out the study was taken from the Principals of all the Dental Colleges in Bangalore. Informed consent was taken from the participants to carry out the study.

Pilot study

A pilot study was carried out for 2 days on 60 samples to know the feasibility of the questionnaire and to calculate the sample size for the study. Sample size was calculated by the formula: Z2pq/δ2

Where: Z −1.96 (standard value); P − 0.5 (prevalence); q − 0.5; δ −0.05 (margin of error)

Based on the results of the pilot study, some minor modifications were done in the proforma and the sample size was calculated to be 600.

Sample design

Study population in the survey included 600 participants (under-graduates and postgraduates) from all the 15 Dental Colleges in Bangalore city. Stratified random sampling was done based on the year with 100 students from each year selected from the 15 dental colleges. The students were randomly selected by taking their consent on first come basis. Each of these students was asked to complete questionnaire in the college and was retrieved immediately. It was made clear to them that the identity would not be disclosed, and they were requested to give their frank opinion.

Questionnaire design

Development of the questionnaire was based on the items previously reported in similar studies. [1],[3],[6] Since the initial instrument had already been pretested and was refined using a similar group of dental students in the previous studies. [1],[3],[6] We administered the same pretested questionnaire.

The proforma consisted of two parts. The first part included the general information like age, gender, education, and year of study. The second part consisted of close-ended questions based on previous studies, [1],[3],[6] with some additions related to cultural and family influences. It consisted of 25 questions, question 1-8 were yes or no questions. For questions 9-23 candidates were asked to score the influence of certain factors (Factors like financial rewards, caring profession (helping people), security, status, nature of occupation, self-employed) on their decision to select dentistry as a career on a scale (Likert scale) from 1 to 9 in order of increasing importance. Question no. 24 and 25 were multiple choice questions. There was also an opportunity for free comment [Table 1].
Table 1: Questionnaire

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Statistical analysis

Data were analyzed using the SPSS package version 15 was manufactured by IBM corporation 15. Kruskal-Wallis test was used to find out the level of significance. Mann-Whitney test was used to find a significant difference among pair of groups. Factor analysis was carried to group motives into related clusters. The difference was considered as statistically significant if P < 0.05.

  Results Top

Among the 600 subjects, 210 (35%) were males and 390 (65%) were females [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Gender distribution of the subjects

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For 233 (38.83%) participants the first choice was dentistry. High positive response was received (94.33%) regarding Dentistry a Caring Profession. About 410 (68.33%) had heard about dentistry as a career in high school, whereas 388 (64.67%) heard about dentistry as a career in college. This was the Responses received for Q1 to Q8 across the study sample [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Responses received for Q1-Q8 across the study sample

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Factor analysis was done for Q9-23. After the factor analysis, 15 questions were grouped under five factors.

  • Factor 1: Influence - is composed of motives that make up the interest, external pressures and employment opportunities to choose dentistry as a career. Q-9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 20, got loaded here, which explained 14.3% of information
  • Factor 2: Profession - is related to dentistry as a profession and the challenges involved therein. Q-13, 19, 22, 23, got loaded here, and the information explained was 13.90%
  • Factor 3: Flexibility - relates to the freedom a Dentist can have in his/her profession, Q-17 got loaded here which explained 9.70% of the information
  • Factor 4: Remuneration - relates to the earnings from dentistry as a profession, Q-15, 18 got loaded here where 9.30% of the information was explained
  • Factor 5: Versatility - represents the opportunities for a dentist in different fields without specialization, Q-21 got loaded here where 7.30% of the information was explained [Table 2].
Table 2: Factor analysis

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Postgraduates showed high positive response (24.03%) to do private practice; 17.90% of undergraduates opted to do higher studies and 25.93% of interns wanted to change their profession. This was the responses received for Q24 across the study sample [Figure 3].
Figure 3: Responses received for Q24 across the study sample

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About 3% wanted to practice, 4% wanted to be an academician, 83% wanted to do both 5% of them wanted to join government service, and 5% of them wanted to change the profession.this was the Responses received for Q25 across the study sample [Figure 4].
Figure 4: Responses received for Q25 across the study sample

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  • Q9, Q11, Q13, Q15, Q18, Q21, Q22 and Q23: No statistically significant difference was observed between the students studying in different years of dentistry with respect to the agreement scores (P > 0.05)
  • Q10, Q12 and Q14: The agreement scores were significantly different between the students studying in different years of dentistry (P < 0.001). The level of agreement decreased from 1 st year B.D.S students to post graduate students in all the above questions
  • Q16, Q19 and Q20: The difference in agreement scores was significant between the students in different years of dentistry (P < 0.01)
  • Q17: The difference in agreement scores was found to be significant among the students in different years of dentistry (P < 0.05) [Table 3].

  Discussion Top

Research on student motivation for choosing dentistry as a career goes back many years. The findings, based on comparisons between universities, different classes at the same university and different demographically constituted classes, as well as comparisons over time, demonstrate a remarkable consistency. [4] Students typically become Dentists because they wish to serve others, to be independent, work with their hands, acquire status, prestige and financial security, and work a 9 a.m.-5 p.m. day. [4]

Sixty-five percent of the students participating in the study were females. This high percentage of females entering the field of dentistry is comparable with other studies [1],[3]

In the present study, Caring Profession, hearing about financial benefits, financial status of a close family members was positive, motivating factors among which caring profession has got the maximum score 94.3% as motivating factor. In other study conducted by Al-Bitar et al., prestige (44%) and helping people (43%) were motivating the factor in their career. [3]

The current study showed that there is changing the perception of dental students toward dentistry. First-year students ranked factors related to job security, self-employment, flexibility, financial benefit and prestigious profession more important in selecting a dentistry. However, this agreement decreased as the students reached internship or postgraduation. The reason might be due to dissatisfaction with remuneration, poor job vacancy, not competent enough to start practice etc., similar observations were also reported in other study. [4]

Factor analysis was carried out and resulted in five factors that accounted for 55% of the variance in the agreement items. Factors 1-3 accounted for 39% of the variance. These factors are used to cluster motives and perceptions which are important factors for choosing dentistry as a career.

The preference for dentistry among high school and college accounts to 68.3% and 64.6% respectively. This may be attributed to a lack of awareness of the program and can be addressed with proper career counseling by dental professionals in conjunction with high school and colleges. Studies have shown that career counseling in high schools has a somewhat high influence in the decision to pursue a dental career. [7] Dentists remain critical factors in the decision process of pursuing dentistry as a career. In Britain, it was reported that the most quoted reason for choice of their career depended on a fairly detailed knowledge of dentistry and about 50% of all applicants had visited a dental clinic as an invited observer. Most of them rated this visit as very important in their career choices. Such visits would help in increasing interest in dentistry. [5]

Private practice that is a common motive for choosing dentistry in many studies appears not to be an easy option because of financial constraints. [1],[4],[6],[7] In this study the motive for choosing dentistry was to do private practice, the percentage increased from 1 st years (14.29%) to postgraduates (24.03%).

In this study, nearly 5% of the students wanted to change their course. This is quite unfortunate given the time, resources and energy that had been invested by both the students and the educators. These students may subsequently need to pursue other careers or make do with dental practice, which may result in a degree of job dissatisfaction and stress. However, we may still need to go further by incorporating interactive sessions that would seek to know the mindset of potential students.

In this study, 83% of postgraduates wanted to do both private practice as well as be in academics for better financial security and to share the knowledge gained during their postgraduation.

  Conclusion Top

The present study reflects a profile of dental students and their responses to a questionnaire probing the motives for their career choice. It is concluded that for choosing dentistry as a career, "caring profession," "job security," "flexibility," "self-employment" and "prestigious profession" were found to be important motivating and perception factors. About 38.83% students indicated that dentistry was their first choice of career. Hence, we would like to suggest that guidance and counseling of high school and college students to visit dental clinics are desirable and it may be a good idea to establish educational programs in colleges to educate students on their career choice and employment opportunities, so that they can choose the right career.

Exposure to dental training appears to improve the perception of the students about dental practice. A curriculum structured to expose the students to core dental courses earlier in their training may, therefore, enhance the perception and acceptability of dentistry to the students. Teaching staff in addition to teaching the technical aspects should communicate their own passion for the profession. They should also help students to understand the objectives of dentistry and make it easier for students to succeed and become dentists. Dental teachers remain a critical factor in motivating students in the decision process of pursuing dentistry as a career.

  References Top

Bernabé E, Icaza JL, Delgado-Angulo EK. Reasons for choosing dentistry as a career: a study involving male and female first-year students in Peru. Eur J Dent Educ 2006;10:236-41.  Back to cited text no. 1
Jover M, Doudoux D, Deveaux E. Representations of the dental surgery profession and the motivations given by second-year French students for applying for dental surgery. Eur J Dent Educ 2006;10:2-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
Al-Bitar ZB, Sonbol HN, Al-Omari IK. Reasons for choosing dentistry as a career by Arab dental students. Eur J Dent Educ 2008;12:247-51.  Back to cited text no. 3
Brand AA, Chikte UM, Thomas CJ. Choosing dentistry as a career - A profile of entering students (1992) to the University of Sydney, Australia. Aust Dent J 1996;41:198-205.  Back to cited text no. 4
Gallagher J, Clarke W, Wilson N. Understanding the motivation: A qualitative study of dental students' choice of professional career. Eur J Dent Educ 2008;12:89-98.  Back to cited text no. 5
Hallissey J, Hannigan A, Ray N. Reasons for choosing dentistry as a career - A survey of dental students attending a dental school in Ireland during 1998-99. Eur J Dent Educ 2000;4:77-81.  Back to cited text no. 6
Sofola OO, Uti OG, Akpene OI. Does exposure to dental education change the perceptions of Nigerian students to dentistry as a profession? Eur J Dent Educ 2008;12:159-62.  Back to cited text no. 7
Hawley NJ, Ditmyer MM, Sandoval VA. Predental students' attitudes toward and perceptions of the dental profession. J Dent Educ 2008;72:1458-64.  Back to cited text no. 8
Karibe H, Kawakami T, Suzuki A, Warita S, Ogata K, Aoyagi K, et al. Career choice and attitudes towards dental education amongst dental students in Japan and Sweden. Eur J Dent Educ 2009;13:80-6.  Back to cited text no. 9
Scarbecz M, Ross JA. Gender differences in first-year dental students' motivation to attend dental school. J Dent Educ 2002;66:952-61.  Back to cited text no. 10


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]

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