The objective of this study, conducted in Germany, Finland and Turkey, was to identify whether motivations to study dentistry varied by country, gender or year of study.
The multicentre pilot study was conducted in English language in 2014. Participants (n = 469 dental students) were either in the first or last year of study. The response rate was 91%.
The sample comprised 63% females and 37% males, reflecting the common gender distribution in dental education. A total of 236 first year students (50.3%) and 233 final year students (49.7%) took part in the study. The participants were aged 21-25 years and of 15 different nationalities, mostly from Turkey, Germany and Finland. Considering who motivated them most to become a dentist, the most common answer was "self-motivated" (49.5%). 23.4% of the students stated having been motivated by a "family member or friend, who is a dentist," while 24.3% said they had been motivated by a "family member or friend, who is not a dentist." -Very few students (2.8%) recorded having been motivated by a "high school or college counsellor." Motivations for choosing dentistry as a career included "ability to help people," "self-employment," "income potential," "working with hands" and "status and prestige," all of which were rated as highly important. "Time management" and "career variety" were rated as moderately important. Significant statistical differences were observed by country and gender. For the German students, a dental relative was significantly more often relevant than for the Finnish and Turkish students, who were more often influenced by family members or friends not working in the dental field. "Time management" seemed to be significantly more important to female than to male students.
In line with a feminisation of the workforce in dentistry, a well-structured working environment and well-thought-out time management may play an increased role in future work force planning (Gender dentistry: International vergleichende Studie zu Karrierewahl und Spezialisierungswünschen von Zahnmedizinstudenten. Ulm: Universität Ulm).