Career choices and future challenges: A cross sectional study among upcoming Indian dentists
Authors: Sajith Abraham, Sheethal Joy, Subair. K, Melwin Mathew, Ashitha Mohandas.
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Introduction: Disparity in distribution of dental manpower across rural urban settings is a major challenge in India’s current dental scenario. Both the systems of dental education and dental health care service delivery hold a pivotal role in overcoming these challenges. Dental health infrastructure distribution, job opportunities and quality of service plays an integral role in molding future decisions in choosing dentistry as career choices.
Aims: To determine the current perceptions among upcoming dentists in choosing dentistry as a career and their future aspirations. This study also aims to foresee future challenges in dentistry and also helps to explore the remedial suggestions recommended by upcoming dentists.
Materials and Methods: A crossectional study was carried out among dental students in a private dental college setting at Mahe, Union territory of Pondicherry in South India. A pretested self administered questionnaire was distributed to fourth year and internship going dental students.
Results: Of 215 potential participants; 203 completed the questionnaire [females (n= 165) and males (n= 38)]. In choosing dentistry as career, 31.5% chose dentistry due to passion for profession, 22.7% due to their only option obtained in entrance exams, 13.7% due to proximity of college to hometown, 13.3 % to fulfil parent’s aspirations and nearly 10.3% due to acceptance in the society. Regarding future aspirations after post-graduation 42.4% planned to work as specialists, 30% planned to work as faculty in government dental colleges and only few students chose working as faculty in private dental college [3.9%]. Nearly 15 % planned to work as dental clinician in dental clinic. The future challenges foreseen in dentistry as a profession by the upcoming dentists, 36.5% gave increased number of dental graduates passing out each year as the major challenge. Regarding suggestions on remedial strategies to meet future challenges 36.5% suggested reduction of number of dental seats sanctioned, 19.7% suggested to create job vacancies in public health sector, 17.7% suggested strict regulatory enforcement by the Dental Council of India [DCI] as the major responses.
Conclusion: Research into motivations and future expectations of upcoming dental workforce might provide insights to make time bound policy level changes for establishment of an effective dental health system.