Factors Affecting The Choice Of Professional Development Of Graduates From Dental Medicine

Abstract

Choosing a career is a complex process, that affect the all areas of life, and is one of the most important decisions of a person throughout life. Over the last years there has been a growing interest into the factors influencing the career choice in medical field because right choice can directly influence the academic performance.The purpose of this study was to examine the factors affectingthe career decision-making. Responses to a self-completed questionnaire of all final (sixth) year students at the Faculty of Dental Medicine, Ovidius University of Constanta were analyzed to identify factors influencing their career choice. Sixty percent planned to immediately enter private practice after finishing dental school. Data showed that women to be more likely to enter private practice than male. The influence of family members, of a mentoring dentist and the family dentists were in a positive correlation with the decision to enter private practice. 30% of participants expressed their desire to continue their professional education through participation in residency exam. Lately, as a consequence of increasing numbers of dentists in Romania, increase the necessity of specialty training after dental school. However, the large number of graduates intending to immediately practice general dentistry in private practice is directly influenced by the desire to gain financial independence. This study suggests that graduates from the Faculty of Dental Medicine, manage to fructify theoretical and practical knowledge acquired during the study period by the by varied career options and this will contribute to an increasing of engaged workforce.

Keywords: Dental graduatecareer choicemotivationworkforce

1. Introduction

The choosing moments are key moments and the career choice is a complex process that affects all

fields of life, and is one of the most important decision throughout a person's life. Everyone tries to

choose a career in the community that in addition to supply his material needs, it could bring

psychological satisfaction (Shafiabadi, 2012).In the past, the majority of students were heading to the

dental profession with an idealistic vision; while with change in societies, the young generation's attitude

in choosing a career has changed due to the long period of education and high costs and because of the

fact that career changing is rarely possible for dentists. For these reasons those who for whatever reason

are not suitable for the profession, are not professionally and psychologically satisfied (Skelly & Fleming,

2002). According to Chambers' report, 20-50 percent of dentists would not choose the dental profession in

the event of further chance for choosing a job (Chambers, 2001).

The healthcare workforce is an important element of society and an essential resource within

healthcare (Dussault, & Dubois, 2003) and with dentistry is the same (Gallagher, Clarke, & Wilson,

2008). This essential compartment of the healthcare workforce is influenced by the wider context

including political, societal, and economic change (Gallagher, Patel, Donaldson, & Wilson, 2007). It is

therefore important to understand the views and career expectations of new entrants to the dental

profession to protect and develop this resource. Studies have shown that dental students, because of lack

of concern for employment after graduation, are in better mental state compared to other students

(Gilavand, Espidkar, & Fakhri, 2015).

Previous studies made by Gallagher and his collaborators (2008, 2009), have revealed that the

final year dental students aim to acquire ‘professional experience’, ‘independence’, and financial stability’

on a short-term basis whereas long-term goals involved improving ‘standard of living’, ‘balance between

work and life’, and ‘achieving financial security’, largely within their country of training.

Till now, there has been no information on the career expectations of dental students from the

Romanians dental faculties. Evaluating the practice plans of graduating dental students and the factors

influencing their decisions is of great importance for dental educational systems around the world.

2.Objective of this study

.The objective of this study was to investigate career plans and the factors affectingthe career

decision-making of the final-year dental students (graduating in 2016) of Faculty of Dental Medicine,

Ovidius University of Constanta.

2.1.Study Population and Procedure

Final year dental students (n=57) of Faculty of Dental Medicine, Ovidius University of Constanta

from the academic year 2015 – 2016, were invited to participate in this study; and fifty of themwere

included in the study, because seven were absent when the study was performed. The students did not

receive incentives to participate in the study and they were under no obligation to complete the

questionnaire.

A questionnaire was composed to assess the graduates’ opinions on future career plans and

influencing factors. The questions were developed, applied and the results were interpreted by

psychologists from the Center for Counselling and Career Guidance, Ovidius University of Constanta.

The final version of the questionnaire had a total of 20 questions that explored students’ demographics,

their opinions on the employment prospects in dentistry, their future practice plans including practice

sector and location, and the factors that influenced their practice decisions. All students were given the

opportunity to add comments.

Final-year dental students who graduated in 2016 were asked to participate in the study and all

students that were present ( n = 50; 76% female, 24% male) were included in the study population.

To obtain the maximum response rate and minimize disruption to the study, the questionnaires

were distributed following the final test in the sixth year. All of the students received verbal information

regarding the study from the research group before deciding whether to participate. It was explained to

them that there was no right or wrong answer for the questions. The study was anonymous and all

information would be available only for group analysis. The students had the right to refuse participation

or to quit at any moment. Verbal consent was obtained from all participants.

For completing the questionnaire required approximately 25 minutes were necessary. Statistical

analyses were performed using SPSS Version 16.0 for Windows (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). For all

the tests, significance was adopted if the p value was less than 0.05 (5% level of significance).

3.Results

3.1.Students’characteristics

A total of 50 final-year dental students participated in this study, of whom 76% (n = 38) were

female and 24% (n = 12) were male. In total, 78% (n = 39) of the students were residents of Constanta

County, whereas the remaining 22% (n = 11) were from another Counties: Tulcea 10% (n = 5), Călărași

6% (n = 3), Prahova 4% (n = 2), and Buzău 2% (n = 1). All the respondents graduated in 2016 and will

have the licensing exam in September. Characteristics of the study participants are presented in Table 1.

The influence of gender, and region of origin on results was examined but was only reported when

significant differences were identified.

Figure 1: Characteristics of the study participants (N= 50)
Characteristics of the study participants (N= 50)
See Full Size >

3.3.Strengths and limitations of the study

This is the first study exploring the views of the final year dental students (graduating in 2016) of

Faculty of Dental Medicine, Ovidius University of Constanta. The study contributes to the literature on

final year dental students’ career aspirations to select dentistry as a profession. This research incorporated

the views of the dental students from just one dental school in the Romania and consequently, prudence

should be taken for relating these findings to the overall Romania dental students; however, the results

raise certain topics for debate and future research.

4.Discussion

Dental faculties are the primary source of education for future dentists. By providing data on

dental students’ career plans and the factors that influence those plans, dental faculties can play an

important role in forecasting trends in the dental workforce. This analysis is also essential for future

development of the dental profession.

This study results suggest that women form an important part of the emerging dental workforce in

Romania. In this study, the number of female dental students was three times higher than the number of

male dental students. Dentistry is an attractive career option for women worldwide. Data from other

countries show that the increasing numbers of female applicants and female students in dental schools

and the constantly increasing number of female dentists are a major ongoing dental workforce trend

(Tandon, 2004; Solomon, 2009). In many countries, female dentists choose to leave work or to work on a

part-time basis after marriage or childbirth (Davies, et al. 2008; Gallagher, Patel, & Wilson, 2009).In

Romania happened the same, because the opportunity to work in a flexible or part-time job is very present

and another and because the female dentists are important income providers in their households.Child

care and family responsibilities will, to some extent, limit the contribution of females to the dental

workforce and also affect female dentists when they compete with male dentists for a particular position.

The results of this study highlights that 30% (n = 20) of graduates had plans to continue their

professional education through participation in residency exam, which was similar to the rates of previous

international studies (Okwuje, Anderson, & Valachovic, 2008).Positive family encouragement is

important to the progression of students’ academic careers. Other studies have shown that strong

encouragement from other influential parties, including spouses, relatives, mentors, and advisors can

greatly increase pursuit of a specialty program (Scarbecz, & Ross, 2007).

In this study, the percentage of graduates planning to immediately find and enter in clinical

practice (60%) was higher than the percentage of graduates wishing to continue their professional

education and similar to the percentage reported in other previous international studies (Okwuje,

Anderson, & Valachovic, 2008;Nashleanas, McKernan, Kuthy, & Qian, 2014). I hypothesised that other

influences to be significant factors predicting the probability of planning to enter practice immediately

after dental school. The influence of a spouse’s occupation was significantly higher among those planning

to immediately enter practice. Students who plan to immediately enter practice may have more pressure

to accelerate the entry into the work force and generate income due to their spouses’ occupation, or lack

of occupation. The influence of family members other than spouses and the influence of a family dentist

were also rated significantly higher among those students planning to immediately entering practice.

When making practice plans, respondents primarily consider opportunities for personal

development, salary and social benefits, and practice location. All respondents from Constanta intended

to remain in Constanta after graduation and 27,27% of the dental students from other regions indicated

that they would like to practice in Constanta, while 72,72% of dental students from other provinces

preferred to return to their home town or to practice in a location near their home town. These findings

agree with those of previous studies and suggest that dentists are most likely to begin practice in the

region in which they were raised or attended school (Lin, Rowland, & Fields, 2006). These results

indicate that large, economically developed cities are preferred by dental graduates.

5.Conclusions

Our study showed that when planning their future practice, graduating dental students considered

their career prospects and individual development. the number of female dental students was three times

higher than the number of male dental students and play an important role in the emerging dental

workforce.

In late years, as a consequence of increasing numbers of dentists in Romania, was the necessity of

specialty training after dental school. However, the large number of graduates intending to immediately

practice general dentistry in private practice after graduation is directly influenced by the desire to

practice and gain financial independence.

Dental faculties should emphasize professional competency, enhance dental competitiveness,

provide more employment guidance and help dental graduates to face the current labor market. This study

suggests that graduates from the Faculty of Dental Medicine, manage to fructify theoretical and practical

knowledge acquired during the study period by the by varied career options and this will contribute to an

increasing of engaged workforce.

The results highlight the need for national annual surveys of graduating dental students to obtain

information on their practice and advanced education plans following graduation, in addition to the

decisive factors that influenced their postgraduate plans.

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Publisher

Future Academy

First Online

18.12.2019

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2017.05.02.39

Online ISSN

2357-1330