The Motivation and Confidence in Choosing Dentistry as a Career Amongst Dental Students: A Mixed-Methods Study

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European Journal of Dental Education

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© 2021 The Authors. European Journal of Dental Education published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Objectives: An insight into students’ motivation and confidence in the choice of entering and remaining in dental education is essential. The understanding of how choices are made can help universities in the planning of admission policies. This study aimed to evaluate the career choice influences, motivation and confidence in the choices made into dental education. Methods: A mixed-method design was employed, using both quantitative and qualitative data. One hundred seventy-three questionnaires were distributed to all registered dental students, with a response rate of 85%. The questionnaire explored students’ demographics and factors that influenced their career choice. Seven focus groups were facilitated with related data recorded and transcribed verbatim. Results: The quantitative data revealed the desire to help others, and socioeconomic factors were influential, whilst for parents’ influence, the mother's influence was statistically significant. Qualitatively, results converged and complemented quantitative data; there was a balance between helping others and socioeconomic and familial influences. There was an increase in confidence in the choice made as students advanced in their dental education. The results indicate that informed awareness of the dental programme structure is essential before embarking on a dental career. Conclusions: The factors that impacted on choice were helping others, socioeconomic factors and the influence on choice from family. They were generally satisfied with their choice and were confident in the choice they made. This confidence, however, was not reflected until the more advanced clinical stages of their dental education.


Career choice; Dental education; Dental students; Focus groups; Motivation


Dentistry | Medical Education



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