| Abstract|| |
Introduction: The choice of career is one of the most important decisions in one's life. However, the choice of dentistry becomes forceful at times by peer pressure, cultural thrust or inability to procure medicine. The dental students may be discontented with the profession or income in the present scenario due to the growing competition. The aim of the present survey is to assess the various careers perspectives opted by Indian dentists post under-graduation.
Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional, descriptive survey. A customized questionnaire was administered to the study group of 500 dentists regarding the reasons for choice of dental course, career options, obstacles faced post-completion of under-graduation, satisfaction with current profession, income and clinical practice.
Results: Data were analyzed using counts and percentages. The study constituted of 49% male and 51% female participants. The most popular reasons for choosing dentistry were inability to get medical seat as well as out of own interest and family pressure. The participants planned to do post-graduation (41%) or work at private clinic (22%) after graduation. Most of the dentists 430 (90%) reported being satisfied with their profession while only 136 (28%) were satisfied with their income. 26% of the participants wanted to quit dentistry.
Conclusions: The need for the hour is to uplift the quality of dental profession in India by increasing the number of post graduate seats in proportion to the undergraduate seats, to increase the income, job opportunities and status of the dental professionals in par with medical professionals.
Keywords: Career options, career perspectives, dental education, dental students, India, motives
Key messages: Dentistry as a career choice should solely be taken by personal interest
|How to cite this article:|
Priya B M, Shivakumar V, Anitha V, Shanmugam M, Tejasri G, Vidhu S. Career perspective among dental professionals in Tamil Nadu. J Educ Ethics Dent 2014;4:61-4
|How to cite this URL:|
Priya B M, Shivakumar V, Anitha V, Shanmugam M, Tejasri G, Vidhu S. Career perspective among dental professionals in Tamil Nadu. J Educ Ethics Dent [serial online] 2014 [cited 2023 Dec 4];4:61-4. Available from: https://www.jeed.in/text.asp?2014/4/2/61/148987
| Introduction|| |
Career option refers to the extent to which a person seeks involvement in a career as central to his or her future life. Choice of health care profession overweighs the other professions due to altruistic values and service orientation.
The students have numerous career options and it is extremely difficult for them to choose the best option that would satisfy their passion and income. Expectation of a secure and bright professional future keeps the students motivated during the course of their dental education. However, dentistry as a professional career may change over time in relation to skills, continuous innovation in techniques, and materials.  This further highlights that the ability to respond flexibly and to address the challenges will result in a progressive career graph.
While joining under graduation, the students are attracted toward the course because of the social and professional status, increased quality of life and income, others' recommendations, and to play a role in community health care services.  The dental profession being similar to medicine was the most common reason identified for whom dentistry was not the first career choice. 
Most of the students seek post graduate admissions after completing their undergraduation. However, the number of seats available for post graduation is very less compared to the graduation of 25,000 under graduate students each year. This is a big tailback in career prospects of dentist. 
Increasing number of undergraduate seats with decrease in the number of merit seats/higher fees demand for post graduation remains a challenge today for majority of the dental graduates. Moreover less dental job opportunities in India, increased budding of new private dental clinics and less recognition of dental qualification overseas, has created intense pressure on the dental graduates.
Research into the career options of dental profession is vital to inform dental workforce policy, administrators, and educators to identify the reasons for improving the quality of dental profession in India to uplift the career of Indian dentists.
The aim of the present study is to identify the dental graduates' perceived motivation for pursuing a dental career and to examine their career plans after graduation.
| Materials and Methods|| |
The present study is a descriptive, cross-sectional survey of dental graduates and post-graduates. The purpose of the study was explained to the participants; confidentiality was ensured. Written consent was obtained from the participants before filling the questionnaire.
A custom-made questionnaire was distributed to 500 dentists in Tamil Nadu. The questionnaire had both open-ended and close-ended questions. The questions were regarding the reasons for choice of dental course, career options, obstacles faced post-completion of under-graduation, satisfaction with current profession, income and clinical practice. Statistical analysis was done using counts and percentages.
| Results|| |
A total of 500 dentists were given the questionnaire [Figure 1] out of which 480 filled it correctly giving an overall response rate of 96% out of which 246(51%) were female and 234(49%) were male dental graduates. The age of the participants ranged between 21and 45 years (average 32 years).
The distribution of participants is depicted in [Table 1].
Analysis of the motives for choosing dentistry as a career revealed that the most important factors that influenced their choice of dentistry were inability to get medical seat among 224 graduates (47%) followed by choice out of own interest in 175(37%) and family pressure in 76(16%) as depicted in [Figure 1].
Regarding career opted after BDS 276 (41%) planned to do post-graduation in India; while 57(8%) planned to pursue overseas education, 150(22%) planned to work at corporate/private clinics; while 93(14%) planned to have their own clinics and the remaining 15% were at home or not pursuing any job as shown in [Figure 2].
When questioned regarding the obstacles faced after completing undergraduation, it was revealed that majority of the participants did not report any obstacles (27%), 29% were not satisfied with income; 14% reported problems due to less number of merit seats for post-graduation and another 14% reported inability to find a well-deserved job followed by 12.7% had problems making the right decision (12.7%). Very few participants reported slow growth of their clinics (1.8%) and financial insufficiency to start their own clinics (0.8%) as shown in [Figure 3].
Among 365 undergraduates, 273(58%) of them were preparing for post-graduate entrance examination; and 23(4.6%) of them were pursuing post graduation. Participants pursuing post graduation took an average of 2.5 years (ranging between 0.5 and 5 years) for entrance exam preparation.
49% of them preferred to work in a clinical set-up; 4% of the participants were interested in teaching; 47% of them were interested in both teaching and clinical practice after post-graduation.
Most of the dentists 430(90%) reported being satisfied with their profession while only 136(28%) were satisfied with their income. The survey revealed that 195(41%) dentists are full-time practitioners.
The participants were questioned about changing the profession under an option, 70% of them were not interested whereas the remaining 30% wished to change the profession. Engineering, fashion designing, and civil service were the second choice of careers among these people.
26% of the participants wanted to quit dentistry in our present study.
Only 66% of the graduates revealed their future plans to establish the career as shown in [Table 2].
| Discussion|| |
The present descriptive observational survey is to identify the dental graduates' perceived motivation for pursuing a dental career and to examine their career plans after graduation. Dental education today must ensure that professionals are equipped to deal with the emerging challenges, and in an increasingly globalized scenario. Education our future professionals to meet such challenges will decide the future of our country.
Dental and medical courses are very tough and this changes the attitude of students toward further studies. Usually students enter the dental course with a great dream in their eyes. But the burden of the course and the obstacles faced after graduation make it difficult for them to cope up with the stress. So, the fail rates had shown to be high as per the study done by Datta et al. in 2013.  At present the number of undergraduate dental admissions are declining in India because of increased competition due to the rapid increase in the number of dentists which has limited the future earnings of a dentist. 
The choice of the career is found to vary between age, gender, ethnicity and socio economic status. The career choice differ between the gender with the business-oriented motives seems to be a greater concern to male students while female dental students were more concerned with people-oriented motives. ,,, So in the present survey equal number of male and female participants were included.
Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions of an individual because of its impact on the future. Participants in the study reported that the decision of choosing dentistry as a career was largely because of the inability to get a seat in medicine (47%) and fewer out of their own interests (37%). Most popular reason for student's entry in this course was due to their prior interest in medicine and its similarity to medicine and to get a prestigious position in the society. , Inability to procure medicine should not be a sole reason for choosing dentistry as it may affect one's professional life.
In the present study, family pressure on the students to pursue the health care profession due to its high social status and income were the reasons for the choice of dentistry among 16% of the participants whereas in another study done by Aggarwal,  97.7% of them were encouraged by their families to consider dentistry as a profession. In India, family plays a major role in deciding the career of a student. In UAE, financial stability and gaining professional experience emerged as the most important influence on the short term career plans of dentistry. , In the study done by Karibe et al. in dental students of Japan and Sweden, interpersonal motives related to helping other people and expectations of the family were found to be the reasons for choice of dentistry.  In the study done by Belsi et al, London dental institute, job security overweighed the other factors to choose dentistry. , Dentistry was a first career choice among Nigerian students because of interest, prestige, good employment opportunity abroad, regular work hours and similarity to medicine. ,
In the present study, 41% of the participants planned to pursue post-graduation. In congruence with other studies, engaging in postgraduate studies was the first career preference among the participants.  92% of the students had the desire to specialize in dentistry in UAE.  In a study done by Garla et al., 2011, 57.39% of the undergraduates and interns aspired for post-graduation for better salary and job opportunities.  In another study done by Aggarwal, 79.1% of them wanted to pursue post-graduation.  Comparatively, the proportion of people who wish to pursue post-graduation in India is lesser when compared to other countries probably due to lesser number of seats with heavy competition and higher fee status.
Few participants (8%) wanted to pursue overseas dental graduation in spite of difficulties like the higher costs, and cultural, social, and political complications. In another study conducted by Dastjerdi et al. 2011  62.1% of them wanted to pursue overseas education. In a study conducted at Bhubaneshwar  30.1% of them wanted to pursue overseas education.
Participants did not prefer working in a government setup, but reported a preference for pursuing a private practice, probably because of the heavy workloads and poor pay in the former setup. Some of them also showed inclination toward starting their own clinics as part of their future plans due to the flexible working hours. In our study, 49% of them preferred to work in a clinical set-up; 4% of the participants were interested in teaching; 47% of them were interested in both teaching and clinical practice after post graduation. Whereas in a study done by Karunya et al, 37.1% of the post-graduates preferred teaching over 30.06% of the individuals who preferred working at private clinics. 
Our study agreed that despite the participants' perception of the dental profession as stressful and not so fruitful in terms of income, they showed a positive perception regarding dental profession.
| Conclusion|| |
The need for the hour is to uplift the quality of dental profession in India by increasing the number of post-graduate seats in proportion to the undergraduate seats, to increase the income, opportunities and status of the dental professionals in par with medical professionals. At the entry level, dentistry as a career choice should solely be taken by personal interest knowing the challenges in the profession than as an alternative to other professions or family pressure.
| Acknowledgement|| |
The authors would like to thank the participants of the survey for their contribution.
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Dr. B Meena Priya
Department of Periodontics, Chettinad Dental College and Research Institute, Kelambakkam, Chennai - 603 103, Tamil Nadu
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
[Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]
[Table 1], [Table 2]