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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 93-98

Assessment of motivational factors and career aspirations of dental interns in Davangere city: A cross-sectional survey

1 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Bapuji Dental College and Hospital, Davangere, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Internees, Bapuji Dental College and Hospital, Davangere, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication10-Mar-2016

Correspondence Address:
Dr. B Sapna
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Bapuji Dental College and Hospital, MCC B Block, Davangere - 577 004, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2231-6027.178492

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Purpose: To assess the motivational factors and future career aspirations of dental interns. Materials and Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional survey was carried out among 88 dental internees. A self-designed questionnaire was used to collect information regarding motivational factors in choosing dentistry as a career, future career plan, and students' attitude toward the profession. Chi-square test was employed to find the association between motivation factors and career aspirations among male and female interns. Results: The study results showed that majority of students (48.9%) were self-motivated (own interest) for choosing dentistry as a career and 31.8% had chosen dentistry due to parent's interest. About 28.4% chose dental profession as it has good job security and 27.3% of students for financial security. On completion of their undergraduate course in dentistry, 35.2% preferred to pursue postgraduation in India, 29.5% wanted to go abroad for further studies, and 6.8% desired to establish private practice. There was a marginal significant association between male and female study participants to join postgraduation as a career choice (P = 0.05). Majority (83%) of the study participants were happy with their dental profession and almost 72.7% of the study participants agreed that they have enough abilities to treat the patients. Conclusions: The study concludes that student's own interest, job, and financial security are the major reasons for pursuing a master degree. The reasons for choosing dentistry have important implications for the selection and training of students as well as for their future job satisfaction.

Keywords: Career, dental, motivation

How to cite this article:
Sapna B, Nadaf N, Shifa, Ain Badroon SN, Abd Rahim ZH, Tan R. Assessment of motivational factors and career aspirations of dental interns in Davangere city: A cross-sectional survey. Int J Oral Health Sci 2015;5:93-8

How to cite this URL:
Sapna B, Nadaf N, Shifa, Ain Badroon SN, Abd Rahim ZH, Tan R. Assessment of motivational factors and career aspirations of dental interns in Davangere city: A cross-sectional survey. Int J Oral Health Sci [serial online] 2015 [cited 2023 Jun 1];5:93-8. Available from: https://www.ijohsjournal.org/text.asp?2015/5/2/93/178492

  Introduction Top

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves”

William Shakespeare

Destiny is not a thing to be waited for, but a thing to be achieved. Almighty God has given us enough knowledge and wisdom to share and apply in particular circumstances. One such difficult circumstance in life is choosing a career.[1] It has an obvious impact on individual's future pattern and is influenced mainly by the advice from parents, relatives, friends, teachers, family dentist, siblings, and counselors.[2] Motives for choosing a career are complex, and choice of career in dentistry is no exception. The choice of dentistry as a career could offer prestige, relative autonomy, income above average, opportunities to help others, and creative and artistic challenges. Dentists occupy an important position in society as professional healthcare workers.[3] Equipped with motivation, individual students are activated to complete an assignment successfully, achieve their goal, or accomplish some extent of mastery in their field and thus attain academic success fruitfully. On the other hand, loss of motivational factors causes pessimism, anxiety, and depression, which leads to poor academic performance at preclinical as well as lack of confidence at a clinical level.[4]

In India, before 1980, there were only 39 dental colleges with few dentists being available for services, but the scenario has changed after 1980, as number of dental colleges have mushroomed in India, which has reached around 270 in 2007. Correspondingly, the number of dental surgeons in the country has also increased from few hundreds to almost 80,000. There is about 3.5 times increase in the population since then and number of dentists has increased more than 3000 times. This enormous increase has led to a feeling of anxiety due to saturation in the minds of budding dentists. This feeling is intense, especially among interns after clearing so many hurdles (financial, psychological, social, and the subject itself) till their graduation in dentistry. They are not able to decide as to what future course they should take up to establish themselves.[5]

Of late women's role in the field of dentistry is seeing an upward trend. The pioneer women in dentistry are worthy of recognition and admiration. They broke the traditional barriers for their gender and set the standards for those who followed in their path as dental professionals. There may be different motivational factors for women in choosing the career and this has been given little attention by the researchers.[6] To delve further into these issues and to gain an insight into motivational factors, the study will be conducted to explore the motivational factors and future career aspirations of dental interns.

  Materials and Methods Top

The present study was a descriptive, cross-sectional survey carried out in two of the teaching dental institutions among the 88 dental students undergoing internship. Ethical clearance was obtained from the Institutional Review Board. A voluntary written informed consent was obtained from the study participants before the start of the study.

Data were collected from the students using a self-designed pretested structured questionnaire containing three sections, first section contained questions pertaining to demographic details of the participants and mode of entry to join dentistry. Second section contained three questions to collect the information regarding factors motivating the students in the choice of dentistry and future career plan of the students'. Third section contained four questions pertaining to the attitude of students toward dental profession. A pilot study was conducted on 10% of the study population who were not included in the final analysis to know the validity and reliability of the questionnaire. The face and content validity of the questionnaire was checked by five dental and five medical faculty members. Test–retest was used to check the reliability and internal consistency of the questionnaire before the study. Cronbach's alpha value of 0.80 suggested good internal consistency of the questionnaire. The investigator briefed the students about the study, and the participants were asked to fill the questionnaires voluntarily and anonymously. The completed forms were collected back on the same day.

The data were analyzed using statistical package SPSS 17.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Descriptive analyses were carried out and were represented as frequency and percentages according to the gender. Pearson's Chi-square test was used to determine the association between motivational factors and future career aspirations among the male and female interns. Significance was assessed at 5% level of significance.

  Results Top

A total of 88 study participants responded to the survey. Of these, 56 (63.6%) were females and 32 (36.4%) were males aged 21–26 years [Figure 1]. Majority, i.e., 71 (80.7%) study participants had entered the course through the management quota, 12 (13.6%) study participants through common entrance test, and only 5 (5.7%) students had pursued dentistry through the Consortium of Medical, Engineering, and Dental Colleges of Karnataka entrance [Figure 2].
Figure 1: Distribution (%) of study participants by gender

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Figure 2: Distribution (%) of study participants based on mode of entrance into dentistry

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Analysis of the motives for choosing dentistry as a career revealed that majority (48.9%) of the study participants chose dentistry due to their own interest, followed by family advice 15 (17.0%), and unavailability of other desired courses 28 (31.8%). Two (2.3%) males chose the career on the advice of their friends or relatives whereas females were not influenced by the peer pressure. There was no statistically significant association in the response between the male and the female study participants regarding the motivational factors to join dentistry (P = 0.545) [Figure 3].
Figure 3: Distribution (%) of study participants according to the source of their motivation to study dentistry

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[Table 1] highlights the career preferences among study participants. About 14 (43.8%) male study participants wanted to pursue their postgraduation in India whereas 9 (28.1%) study participants planned to pursue overseas education. Among the female study participants, 17 (30.4%) expressed more desire to pursue the postgraduation in India as well as in abroad. Majority of females 8 (14.3%) wanted to work under the dentist. No significant association was found between the career preferences among the males and females (P = 0.292).
Table 1: Distribution of participants based on the response to career option after BDS

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The main reasons reported by the male study participants for choosing postgraduation as a career choice were can work abroad, 11 (34.4%), financial security, 7 (21.9%), prestige, social status, and good job security, 5 (15.6%). Females chose postgraduation as a career choice mainly because of good job security, 20 (35.7%) followed by financial security, 17 (30.4%), practicing in abroad, 9 (16.1%), and at last prestige and social status, 5 (8.9%). There was a marginal significant association between male and female study participants for reasons to join postgraduation as a career choice (P = 0.05) [Figure 4].
Figure 4: Distribution (%) of study participants according to the reasons for opting postgraduation as a career choice

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Majority (83%) of the study participants reported being happy with their dental profession and almost 72.7% of the study participants agreed that they have enough abilities to treat the patients. Nearly half of the study participants agreed of being confident in doing all kinds of treatment. Almost one-third study participants expressed satisfaction in their ability to develop a good doctor–patient relationship and 31.8% were unhappy with their doctor–patient relationship [Table 2].
Table 2: Distribution (%) of study participants according to their attitudes toward the dental profession

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  Discussion Top

Motivation is not an endless stream or a switch you can turn on and off. Neither it is something that you are born with or not born with. A motivated student will find it easier to go superfluous mile and do all necessary tasks that need to be done to assure success. The right motivation will allow students to study a lot with more focus and concentration. Students' motivation and their preliminary attitude toward dental profession are associated with a dentist's future job satisfaction as well as quality practice. Hence, the present descriptive survey evaluated the motivational factors and career choices among dental interns with respect to their gender.

In the present study, there were 56 female and 32 male students with a mean age of 24.2 years. Majority of the respondents were females, a trend seen in majority of dental schools in India. The high percentage of females entering the field of dentistry is comparable with other studies.[7] Increase in female enrollment in dental schools may be attributed to the belief that females may be able to balance personal and professional life effectively, as dental profession allows for a more flexible working schedule and even the attitude of parents toward female education has changed as parents look after their sons and daughters in an equal way.

Dentistry was the primary field of interest for majority of males (53.1%) and female (46.4%) students, as they had chosen dentistry due to their own interest. There were similar results from a survey conducted in Australia by Mariño et al.[8] According to this survey, 85.3% of the students were mostly self-motivated to pursue a dental career. Parents' interest was the second most influential factor in the decision to pursue a career in dentistry. These findings are in line with the study conducted by Garla, Aggarwal et al., and Avramova et al.[2],[3],[9] In India, family plays a major role in deciding the career of children. The attitude of our society is such that majority of parents wish their children to become doctors, as Medicine being a noble profession. It is often assumed that parents force their career choices on their children; however, this did not hold good for our subjects. This fact was further strengthened by the observation that significantly a high number of students wanted to pursue postgraduation in the same field, thus proving that it was genuinely the students' personal choice to pursue dentistry.

In the current survey, it was found that 2 (6.2%) students were influenced to choose this profession due to the peer pressure and, moreover, almost 15 (17%) students indicated dentistry was not their first choice and had chosen dentistry due to unavailability of other desired courses. Similar studies conducted in Bhubaneswar and Mysore also showed comparable results.[3],[10],[11] There was no statistically significant difference in the response between the male and the female study participants.

A relatively higher percentage (64.7%) of respondents agreed that postgraduate education is a necessity, among which 35.2% of the participants planned to pursue postgraduation in India and 29.5% wanted to pursue postgraduation overseas. The findings are in concordance with studies conducted by Garla, Aggarwal et al., and Vahid Dastjerdi et al.[2],[3],[12] Nearly, 62.1% of them wanted to pursue overseas education. Very few of the study participants (5.7%) prefer working in a dental college, few (6.8%) reported a preference for pursuing a private practice, probably because of the heavy workloads and poor pay in the former setup,[13] and only 3.4% were interested in research activities. Nearly, 9.1% of the females were willing to work under dentist than males, the collective reasons behind this could be males usually prefer to be more independent compared to females and lack of confidence among the females to manage the clinic. Family commitment can also be a crucial factor as the females have to balance the time for the family and the clinic.[14]

In the current study, practicing in abroad was a priority among male participants and good job security was the intention for choosing postgraduation as a career choice among the female subjects. These results are consistent with the published literature.[15] The reason for migration could be the monetary benefits that dentists might get in most of the developed countries, and facilities in the developed countries are more advanced and promising as compared to India. Being a postgraduate escalates the opportunity to work in the teaching institutions. There was a marginal statistical significant association between male and female students for pursuing postgraduation for financial reasons.

Majority (83%) of the students were happy of being a dentist. This can be attributed to the fact that most of the students had joined dentistry due to their own interest and majority of the students had entered this course through the management quota. Only 60.2% of the students were satisfied with doctor–patient relationship. This can be due to lack of proper communication skills between doctor and patient and also the language barrier confronted by many of the students from interstates. In our study, only 47.7% of graduating students were confident in performing all kinds of important clinical procedures. A study of Western Australian dental graduates found that 73% of students perceived themselves to be prepared, competent, and confident to practice as dentists.[16] The lack of competence can be attributed to the existing curriculum, which focuses mainly on restorative dentistry and removable prosthesis procedures. This is also supported by the fact that only 6 (6.8%) of the students were confident about starting a dental practice after graduation. This emphasizes the fact that the Dental Council of India should intensely revise the current curriculum, and there is a need to introduce general dentistry as a course that could be taken by students to improve their clinical skills. Such a course could also be offered as a postgraduate program.[17],[18]

Finally, it is important to consider the limitations of this study. The students participating in this study comprise a convenience sample. The study sample was relatively small compared to the total number of dental students. Our results were derived from self-reported data and thus may have limited generalizability.

  Conclusions Top

A wide range of factors influence the choice of dentistry as a profession. In the present study, own interest strongly influenced the students' intrinsic motivation for pursuing dentistry followed by the parents' interest. Future aspirations of the interns were mainly pursuing a postgraduation or establishing the dental clinic and females were more likely to work under the specialized dentists. The study concludes that practicing overseas and job and financial security were the major reasons for students pursuing master degree. The reasons for choosing dentistry have important implications for the selection and training of students as well as for their future job satisfaction.


The Indian healthcare system is experiencing a quick transformation owing to the increasing demand for quality healthcare than quantity. Therefore, a reform in training is required where teaching methodology should be enhanced by including more practical than theoretical to increase the interest of the students in the subject and improving the doctor–patient relationship. Further research should be conducted on a larger population in which dental students are randomly selected from different colleges throughout the country. Educational policies should be formulated in such a way that the students and graduates are encouraged to pursue career in fields, which are most needed. Measures should be taken by the Dental Council of India to make provisions to accommodate the dentists in each level of healthcare systems and to provide good job incentives, which may motivate the future dentists.

  Acknowledgment Top

The authors acknowledge final year students for the invaluable help in conducting the survey. Our sincere thanks to Dr. Usha G. V. for helping us in statistical analysis. We would also like to thank the internees who have participated in the study.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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

  [Table 1], [Table 2]

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