Predental Students' Attitudes Toward and Perceptions of the Dental Profession

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The purpose of this study was to assess reasons students seek a career in dentistry, their perceptions of the dental school admissions process, and their expectations of the profession. Of 155 predental students participating in a dental School simulation course offered at a Nevada dental school, 152 participated in this study (68.4 percent [n=104] male, and 31.6 percent [n=48] female). When asked when they made the decision to pursue a career in dentistry. 52 percent (n=79) said they decided in college, while 33.6 percent (n=51) made the decision in high school. A slight majority of the respondents (52.6 percent: n=80) identified their family dentist as having the greatest influence in their decision. Nearly half (47.8 percent: n=64) expected to pursue a career in general dentistry, while the next largest subgroup expected to pursue orthodontics (16.4 percent; n=22). A significant majority of the respondents (72.8 percent; n=10) perceived the dental school admissions process to be fair. Males were significantly more likely to identify themselves as competitive applicants than did females (chi(2)=9.644: p <.01). Approximately half (47.4 percent: n=72) anticipate earning between $100 000 and $ 199,999 within five years after graduation, with 50.7 percent (n=77) anticipating working, between thirty-five and forty hours a week. By understanding the applicant pool and their perceptions, admissions committees call better prepare to attract the applicants they desire.