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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 449-453

Perception of 1st year dental students studying in Odisha toward career choice: A cross-sectional survey

1 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Institute of Dental Sciences, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
2 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Institute of Dental Sciences, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India

Date of Web Publication7-Dec-2015

Correspondence Address:
Nupur Sharma
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Institute of Dental Sciences, K-8 Kalinga Nagar, Bhubaneswar - 751 003, Odisha
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2319-5932.171163

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Introduction: There is a growing recognition that the emerging workforce has very different professional expectations to those of earlier generations, with implications for the profession, patients, and the performance of health systems. Aim: To investigate factors that lead to the choice of dentistry as an occupation among the 1st year dental students in three private dental colleges in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 268, 1st year Bachelor of dental surgery students was carried out using a self-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire consisted of total 21 close-ended questions, which included demographic (age and gender) and career choice-related items. Data were collected, analyzed, and was represented as numbers and percentage. Chi-square test was applied for gender wise comparison for the questions pertaining to future plans. The level of significance was set at P < 0.05. Results: A total of 234 duly filled forms were included for the statistical analysis. The majority of respondents were female (n = 158, 67.52%). The extremely important reason for the respondents to choose dentistry as their career choice was that dentistry has more regular hours than other health related professions and would let them make a lot of money (n = 92, 39.31%). This study revealed significant differences between males and females with respect to their perceived future plans. Conclusion: The results of this study highlighted some important influential factors in the choice of dentistry as a professional career.

Keywords: Career choice, dental students, perceptions

How to cite this article:
Sharma N, Kabasi S, Pati AR. Perception of 1st year dental students studying in Odisha toward career choice: A cross-sectional survey. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2015;13:449-53

How to cite this URL:
Sharma N, Kabasi S, Pati AR. Perception of 1st year dental students studying in Odisha toward career choice: A cross-sectional survey. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Dec 1];13:449-53. Available from: https://www.jiaphd.org/text.asp?2015/13/4/449/171163

  Introduction Top

Career selection is a process of choosing a profession or occupation which will lead to future professional life. The choice of a career is a critical decision that has an obvious impact on a future life pattern. In recent decades, great emphasis has been placed on the main responsibility of healthcare professionals, including dentists, to promote the health of the general public. The success of these efforts requires dentists to be committed to an ethical attitude of public service.[1] Hence, knowledge of dental student's expectations of their profession as well as their motives to study dentistry is of great importance.

Motives for choosing a career are complex, and the choice of dentistry as a career is no exception. Various studies have been conducted to study motives for choosing dentistry as a carrier option. Many factors may enter into deciding on a career choice. These include factors related to working conditions and financial rewards, security and status, nature of the occupation, working with people, use of personal or manual skills and interest in science and research.[2],[3],[4],[5],[6]

These expectations and motives make studying dentistry meaningful to dental students and society and understanding these factors facilitates workforce planning in the dental sector.[7] It is also important to understand the priorities of those who are choosing to study dentistry. It has also been suggested that having an insight into the motivations of those contemplating dentistry as a career may assist in the evaluation of dental curricula.

In India, few studies have been done in this regard, and student's motivations for choosing dentistry are not clearly defined. There is little available information on dental students from the state of Odisha.[8] The present survey aimed to investigate factors that lead to the choice of dentistry as a career among 1st year dental students in three Private Dental Colleges in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India.

  Materials and Methods Top

Odisha is one of the 29 states of India, located in the east of India. It is the 9th largest state by area and the 11th largest by population. It has four dental institutions of which one is government, and three are private. All the private colleges are located in the capital city, Bhubaneswar. Institutional review board approved the research protocol for the study. Informed consent was obtained from all the participants. The cross-sectional study was conducted from December 2014 to February 2015.

The research instrument was a self-administered questionnaire in English language. A 15-item questionnaire was adapted from previous studies [3],[9],[10] and modified considering Indian context. The questionnaire was pretested on a sample of dental students (n = 25). Modifications were made to remove areas of ambiguity in the final questionnaire. Test-retest was used to check the reliability and internal consistency of the questionnaire before the study. The results thus obtained were subjected to statistical analysis. Cronbach's alpha value of 0.86 suggested good internal consistency of the questionnaire.

The questionnaire consisted three parts. The first part sought to determine student's sociodemographic background such as age, gender, nativity, parent's educational qualification, and mode of seeking admission into dentistry. The second part of the questionnaire included questions about the source of encouragement to join dentistry as well as questions pertaining to various factors for choosing dentistry as a career. The third part inquired about possible future career directions. The respondents were asked to identify level of influence of various factors on their career choice on a 5 point Likert scale from "extremely important" (Score 5) to "Not at all Important" (Score 1).

All 1st year students studying in these three institutions were considered for the study (n = 234). The students were informed about the nature of the study and confidentiality was assured. This survey was completed during regularly scheduled class sessions in an average time of 10 min.

Data collected were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20 (IBM, Chicago Inc., IL USA). Both descriptive and inferential statistics were sought. Chi-square test was applied for gender wise comparison for the questions pertaining to future plans. The level of significance was set at P < 0.05.

  Results Top

Out of 300 students enrolled in the participating colleges, 268 participated in our survey, representing an overall response rate of 89.3%. Of which 234 duly filled forms were included for the statistical analysis. The majority of participants were female (n = 158, 67.52%). The age of the respondents ranged from 18 to 24 years (mean = 19.46, standard deviation = 1.78). The majority of the participants did not belong to the state of Odisha (61.96%). More than half of the participating students had parents with university degrees. The majority of the respondents seeked admission through management quota (70.08%) [Table 1].
Table 1: Distribution of study subjects according to demographic variables

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Most of the respondents (n = 118) reported to have decided on their own to join dentistry followed by encouragement by parents (n = 94), teachers (n = 12), friend (n = 6), and others (n = 4) [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Distribution of study subjects based on the source of encouragement to join dentistry (n=234)

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Dentistry has more regular hours than other health related professions and would let them make a lot of money (n = 92, 39.31%) was the extremely important reason for the dental students to choose dental science as their career choice. The least common reasons observed in the study population was a career in dentistry would give enough time to be with family (n = 31%, 13.24%) followed by wanting to help people (n = 32, 13.67%) [Table 2].
Table 2: Factors which influenced study subjects to choose dentistry as a career (n=234)

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[Table 3] depicts respondent's perceived future plans. The gender wise comparison for the questions pertaining to future plans shows statistically significant results (P < 0.05).
Table 3: Study subjects' perceived future plans according to gender (n=234)

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  Discussion Top

The present study was conducted with the aim to investigate the factors that lead to the choice of dentistry as a career. Study subjects comprised of only 1st year dental students as they do not possess professional knowledge about dentistry as well as their responses could be considered to be more accurate and less influenced by the various positive or negative experiences that students from higher academic years (preclinical and clinical) could have acquired.[10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15]

Our study reported a higher number of females as compared to males, a finding common to many other studies on dentistry.[2],[7],[9],[13],[15] The reasons behind the higher number of female students taking up dentistry as their career could be possibly because it allows for more flexible working hours, and they could easily balance their professional career with the demands of domestic life.[16] In addition, female students see dentistry as a way to work with others, as well as to achieve financial gain and professional prestige.[13],[17],[18]

A higher percentage of students in our study are from professional families with well-educated parents which might have been influential in determining the career plans, a finding common to various other reports in the literature.[16]

The majority of the respondents sought admission in the dental colleges through management quota. This can be attributed to the tough competition to clear the medical entrance exams, availability of few seats, and rising costs of medical education which would have prompted the students to get themselves a dental seat under the management quota.

Career development, for most people, is a lifelong process of engaging the work world through choosing among employment opportunities made available to them. Each individual undertaking the process is influenced by many factors, including the context in which they live, their personal aptitudes, educational attainment, and on few instances peer pressure. The present study revealed that 50% of the participants were interested in dentistry and chose it as their career whereas others opted this branch either because of parental influence or teacher or peer advice. Similar results were obtained in the studies conducted by Al-Bitar et al., Hallissey et al. and Skelly and Fleming.[2],[4],[19]

Dentistry is believed to have a more regular working hour schedule as compared to medicine practice. The most powerful motives for studying dentistry in this representative sample of dental students were those related to the above characteristics of the profession and social status, as well as financial gain. These findings are similar to those of many previous studies.[1],[2],[20],[21] As found here and suggested previously, it seems that students of dentistry are less motivated to serve the community than fulfill their personal goals.[1],[22]

A significant gender difference was found in respondent's perceived future plans concerning dentistry. The majority of the female respondents were inclined to pursue postgraduation in the future on the other hand majority of the male respondents opted to go for a private practice. The present situation of the dental profession in India, with lower incomes than previously for dentists, probably explains in part the wish of most dental students in our study (n = 141) to pursue further specialty training after graduating, even at an early stage in their studies. This is in accordance with previous studies where the majority of the students prefer further studies as their future plans.[9],[23] The reason might be because of the limited job opportunities available for dental graduates and the competition faced in private practice.

Due to mushroom-like growth of the private colleges in India, some of the prospective candidates might be discouraged to practice in India as they feel the increased competition would limit their future earnings, hence some of the students prefer to go to abroad for their future studies and practice.[9] Quite a few students (n = 30) in our study also wished to go abroad after their graduation. The migration of health professionals is a matter of concern as it can directly affect health system performance and population health outcomes.

This study explores an area, i.e., study motives and career choices of dental students which has not been extensively studied in Odisha to the best of our knowledge. It helps to know the unique perspectives of students on selecting dentistry as a career and at the same time helps in appreciating the factors influencing their choice. This evaluation adds to a very limited body of the literature which seeks student's perspective concerning dental education.

A few study limitations merit mention. First, the cross-sectional study design used did not allow us to establish whether the student's future career intentions changed over time. Second, the sample was recruited from three private dental universities located in the city of Bhubaneswar (Odisha), and the results cannot be generalized to all dental students in India. However, our study had a high response rate and included renowned institutions in the state. Therefore, it provides an overview of the future dental workforce trained by these institutions. The questionnaire was pretested; however, since it was close-ended, there may have been factors which we did not include that might influence career choices.

Although we cannot completely rule out the possibility of measurement errors, several measures of quality control were included to increase the validity of the data. Finally, even if measurement error had occurred, we believe that our results are plausible and supported by the literature.

It is likely that a balance of factors operating before, during and after dental school is involved in any individual's career decision. While the study had its limitations, the information presented allows for recommendations for further research studies.

  • Further research is clearly needed to identify which unidentified factors impact on undergraduate's career preferences and which of these can be manipulated to influence career preferences in a particular direction, bearing in mind that influencing career preference in one direction may have unpredictable and unwanted effects on preferences in another direction
  • Research on dental student's preferences, expectations, experiences, and aspirations that motivate them to join in or withdraw from their study program are also significant areas that merit further investigation
  • Longitudinal research into the workforce expectations and subsequent understanding of career decisions and pathways is necessary.[15]

  Conclusion Top

The findings of our study raise important issues about the student's professional motivations and highlight future career intentions of dental students that could contribute to more efficient planning of the dental workforce. Qualitative and quantitative approaches at the national level are required to explore and understand student's motives for choosing or not choosing dentistry as a career.


The authors would like to thank all the 1st year dental undergraduates for having participated in this research.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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