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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 272-277

First-year dental students' motivation for choosing the dental profession: A questionnaire study of budding dentists in Central India


1 Department of Public Health Dentistry, People's College of Dental Sciences and Research Centre, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
2 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Hitkarini Dental College, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India
3 Department of Public Health Dentistry, People's Dental Academy, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
4 Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, People's Dental Academy, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
5 PG Student, Department of Public Health Dentistry, People's Dental Academy, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication31-Aug-2015

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Aishwarya Singh
64, Vaishali, Kotra, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
India
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Source of Support: Nil., Conflict of Interest: There are no conflicts of interest.


DOI: 10.4103/2395-2296.163942

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  Abstract 

Background: The choice of a career is a crucial decision that has a lifelong impact on a person's living pattern. It is important to understand the motives of those choosing to study dentistry, because these motives may influence an individual's level of commitment to the profession. The aim of the present study was to highlight the motives of choosing dentistry as a career among 432 1st year dental students. Methods: A pretested close ended questionnaire comprising of 30 questions, was administered to 1st year dental students registered under Barkatullah University, Bhopal. Students were asked questions pertaining to the importance of five central motives money, people, business, flexibility, and personal background for selecting dentistry as a career. The data were analyzed using SPSS version 17. Results: It was observed that being self-employed (54%) and helping people (51%) were reported as the top two factors for joining dentistry. Conclusion: Students' vision of a being self-employed and helping people appears to have influenced their choice of dentistry. This implies that being independent may be one of the most motivating factors underlying the bright image projected by the dental profession. The policy makers should work on making dentistry a lucrative profession, and improve the other motivating factors.

Keywords: Career, dental students, dentistry, factors, motivation


How to cite this article:
Singh A, Saxena S, Tiwari V, Tiwari U, Vishnu V. First-year dental students' motivation for choosing the dental profession: A questionnaire study of budding dentists in Central India. Int J Educ Psychol Res 2015;1:272-7

How to cite this URL:
Singh A, Saxena S, Tiwari V, Tiwari U, Vishnu V. First-year dental students' motivation for choosing the dental profession: A questionnaire study of budding dentists in Central India. Int J Educ Psychol Res [serial online] 2015 [cited 2019 Oct 15];1:272-7. Available from: http://www.ijeprjournal.org/text.asp?2015/1/4/272/163942


  Introduction Top


Motivation can be described as the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. Motivation acts as a constant driving force to achieve targets. It involves the biological, emotional, social, and cognitive forces that lead to making life changing decisions or to initiate behavior like enrolling in a class.[1]

Work motivation is a construct that generally refers to motivation to do one's current job. These constructs are limited in scope, as they do not reflect many individuals' characteristics. The term career motivation encompasses the terms work motivation and goes further to include motivation associated with wide range of career choosing decisions. Career motivation is defined as the set of individual characteristics and behaviors that reflect the person's career identity. Career motivation is conceptualized as a multidimensional construct internal to the individual, influenced by the situation, and reflected in the individual's decisions and behaviors. Each individual's characteristics associated with career motivation corresponds to a situational characteristic and a career decision.[2]

Motives for choosing a career are difficult to understand. Many factors influence career choice like perceptions of one's own strengths, weaknesses, interests, desires, willingness, financial wherewithal (or lack thereof) to undergo the lengthy period of training associated with particular careers, the actual type of work that a particular career entails, the working conditions, and financial rewards associated with a career.[3]

Many factors have been cited as determinants for choosing the medical career notably conscious factors such as the desire for helping people, preference for biological knowledge, scientific curiosity, and unconscious factors such as the capacity for reparation and sublimation; socioeconomic factors including family influence.[4]

The motivation and commitment of the health workforce in general are increasingly recognized as being intimately linked with the performance of health systems, and thus important areas for research.[5] Sociologists' suggest that professionals are also motivated by status in the financial and social order.[6],[7]

The motive for choosing dentistry as a career has come under scrutiny among researchers across globe[8],[9],[10],[11] which are based on diverse samples. Gender differences are also reported regarding the importance of these motives.[12]

In India, dentistry has seen high rate of influx, which is now under gradual decline. Understanding students' motives for choosing dentistry as a career may aid recruiters in designing appropriate and effective recruitment materials.[13]

For the above-mentioned reasons, a survey of motives for pursuing a career in dentistry is appropriate. Thus, the aim of the study was to determine motives around which Indian dental students' decision making is organized. The objectives were to systematically examine gender differences in motives for choosing dentistry and to make appropriate recommendations.


  Methods Top


A descriptive questionnaire study was conducted on 1st year dental students registered under Barkatullah University, Bhopal, for a period of 1-month in the month of November 2014. Study was to determine motives around which Indian dental student's decision making is organized, and to systematically examine the gender difference. Ethical clearance was obtained from the ethical committee of our institute. Permission to conduct the study was obtained from all the dental colleges of Bhopal City. Institutions were assured that they would not be individually identified in the research study, nor would data from any single institution be singled out in a research report. All the students present on the day of study were included in the study irrespective of age and gender. A total of 600 1st year dental students were available at the time of the study out of which 452 students were included in the study. Subjects who did not co-operate and absentees were excluded. A motivation questionnaire[9] was rephrased according to Indian scenario. The study was piloted on a representative sample of 1st year dental students, who were not part of the study population. The questionnaire was tested for its validity and reliability with Chronbach's alpha = 0.88. A schedule of the survey for data collection was prepared. On an average, one dental college students were interviewed per day. Students were distributed the questionnaire at the end of the lecture classes. This questionnaire took approximately 20 min to complete. Students were informed that completion and return of questionnaire implied consent to participate in the study. The self-administered questionnaire included age, gender, and parental education profile as the demographic variables. The questionnaire consisted of 30 questions of five central factors money, people, business, flexibility, and personal background. Students were asked to rate the motives for choosing dentistry as a career using 5-point scale in a descending order, with five indicating very important, four important, three neutral, two less important, and one not at all important.

The data were transferred to precoded survey form to a computer. A master chart was created for the purpose of data analysis. Statistical analysis was done using Statistical Package of Social Science (SPSS Version 17.0; Chicago Inc., USA). Independent sample t-test was used to draw conclusions. Significance level was fixed at P < 0.05.


  Results Top


This questionnaire study was conducted to understand the motivation of 1st year dental students joined dentistry as a career. A total of 452 dental students out of 600 participated in the survey, response rate being 75%. Twenty questionnaires were rejected due to incomplete demographic details. The results showed following observations.

Distribution of study population according to age and gender

A total of 432 dental students comprised the sample. The age ranged from 18 years to 23 years as demonstrated. The mean age of the study population was 19.5 years. Of the total, 204 (47.2%) were males and 228 (52.7%) were females [Table 1].
Table 1: Distribution of study population according to age and gender

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Mean scores (standard deviation) of motivation

The motivation "I want to be self-employed" (mean score 4.16); "I really want to help people" (mean 4.07) and "I want to treat/help people to improve their appearance" (mean score 4.03) exhibited highest means [Table 2].
Table 2: Mean scores and SD of motivation

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Based on the mean scores, the top ten factors, which motivated male students to choose dentistry as a career, are demonstrated. The motivation "I want to be self-employed" (mean score 4.29) topped the list. The top ten motives are demonstrated in [Table 3].
Table 3: Top 10 reasons for pursuing career in dentistry, for males as determined by mean rating

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Supported by the mean scores the top ten factors, which motivated female students to choose dentistry as a career, are demonstrated. The motivation "I want to treat/help people to improve their appearance" (mean score 4.09) topped the list. The top 10 motives are illustrated in [Table 4].
Table 4: Top 10 reasons for pursuing a career in dentistry for females as determined by mean rating

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Built on the mean scores, motivational factors indicating significant gender differences are exhibited. Sixteen out of 30 questions were statistically significant (P ≤ 0.05). The gender differences in motives are demonstrated in [Table 5].
Table 5: Gender differences between first years dental students for motivation

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  Discussion Top


One of the most important decision which affects life is the choice of career. This decision is based on various factors and is influenced by the futuristic aims. Being a dentist gives the opportunity to improve people's oral health which is important for general well-being as it affects nutrition, speaking, appearance, and hence self-image and self-esteem which improves the quality of life.

The purpose of this investigation was to obtain information about the reasons for choosing dentistry as a career among 1st year dental students of Bhopal City. As 1st year students have not been yet exposed to complexities of dentistry, their responses could be considered to be less influenced by the various positive or negative experiences that students from higher academic years could have acquired.

The majority (38%) of 1st year dental students were of 19 years which is in accordance with a similar study conducted by Patel and Saiyed[14] among 1st year dental students of Rajasthan.

Garla[15] investigated career aspirations and reasons for choosing dentistry as a career among dental students of Bhubaneswar (India) and revealed that main reason to enter this profession was their own interest (53.91%), whereas self-employment, altruistic motives (helping people), and dentistry as a prestigious career were given maximum scores by the students, in the present study.

A high rating of self-employment is exhibited in a study done by Scarbecz and Ross[9] among dental students of USA, who also reported that, the mean score for males were significantly greater than females. Indian students exhibited similar results in the present study. Predominance of professional reason in males has also been previously reported for students of South Africa[16],[17] and Peru.[10]

Altruistic motives (helping people/working with people) were found to be important among dental students of Denmark[18] and the UK[8] and ranked second as a motivation for choosing dentistry in Australian[19] dental students, which is in accordance with current study. Furthermore, this is the highest rated reason by females in the present study which is similar to a previous work done in USA,[9] Jordan.[11] The predominance of the vocational reasons in females has also been found for British,[8] Hispanic female in North America,[20] and Peru.[10]

Prestige was reported as an important factor for choosing dentistry as a career among the study population. Dental students from Jordan[11] also demonstrated similar results. This differs significantly when comparing results of previous studies, where 6% of dental students in the UK[21] and 0.9% in Denmark[18] agreed with the statement that a prestigious social standing was the motivation for their choice of career. Dental students in the US[22] reported that prestige was the least important factor in their decision to study dentistry. It is difficult to explain this difference with certainty, but it is important to mention that the title of "Doctor" is given to dentists in India, as in many other Arab countries. This title naturally bestows a certain amount of respect and admiration from society.

Previous studies[16],[23],[24] have revealed that females choose dentistry because it allows flexible working hours and they can easily balance their professional career with the demands of domestic needs which is in contrast to the present study, where males ranked flexibility as an important motive.

Contrarily to that expected, economic reasons were not highly scored for either gender. Comparable results were reported by dental students of Peru,[10] where the economic reason appeared in the fourth and sixth position for males and females, respectively. Albeit, dental students from Ireland[25] reported dissimilar results. Brand et al.[16],[26] have reported that dentistry is no longer a haven of financial security, whereas the case in Indian scenario is different. In India, dental job opportunities are scanty, and there is no implementation of oral health policy at national level. Many states have no dental services provided under the public health sector. Consequently, job opportunities for undergraduates are solely concentrated in the private sector. This is well understood by dental students thus have not emphasized money as an aspect for joining dentistry.

Zadik and Gilad[27] have reported that in all probability, most individuals do not hold to one crucial motive but consider and act on the sum total of reasons and alternatives in decision-making process. As with many other events in daily life, the choice of a professional career could be considered a multifactorial decision, in which several motives interact simultaneously. Therefore, all reason for choosing dentistry as a career must be assessed and analyzed together.


  Conclusion Top


The findings of the present study show that the idea of being self-employed is the top reason for joining dentistry. The motivations when accounted separately, differs significantly between males and females. There was no difference between male and female when money and personal background were accounted. This means that both the genders weigh money and personal factors equally.

Significant differences were found between male and female when it came to profession, flexibility, and factor related to people. Family encouragement and lack of on-call work were important motives for females, whereas, the flexibility of work schedule was more important for males.

To conclude, such work will contribute to the dental profession itself, as it will increase knowledge about the perceptions that students and prospective students have toward dentistry and aid recruiters in designing appropriate and effective recruitment materials.

Based on the present study findings following recommendations can be made:

  1. Further studies should be conducted by extending study and evaluating other psychological factors that influenced the decision of choosing dentistry
  2. The present study may help recruiters in creating effective messages for attracting students to the dental profession
  3. The implications for educators, professional leaders, and policy makers should also be explored further
  4. The potential benefits of the dental profession for finding an equitable balance in work and family life should not be ignored by recruiters.


Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]



 

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