Specialty choice among dental students in Ibadan, Nigeria
Background. The unequal distribution of workforce across dental specialties in Nigeria poses a significant problem in the delivery of specialists’ oral healthcare to the Nigerian population.
Objectives. To determine dental specialties preferences among dental students at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and to explore the factors that influence their choices.
Methods. We obtained ethical approval to conduct this study. Only the dental students who rotated through all the dental specialties were selected to participate in this questionnaire-based study. Data were analysed using SPSS version 16 (SPSS Inc., USA).
Results. The majority of dental students at the University of Ibadan preferred the oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMS) specialty above all other dental specialties, while prosthetic dentistry was least preferred. Of all the factors to take into consideration when choosing a dental specialty, personal interest was the only factor considered by nearly all respondents. Only male respondents considered prestige as an influencing factor in their choice of a specialty. Lifestyle and job description were factors considered by a higher proportion of the male respondents (10/13) than females (5/14). The mean age of the 27 respondents who participated in this study was 22.6 years, 52% of whom were females.
Conclusion. OMS was the most preferred specialty among our respondents (n=8). Nearly all dental students chose residency training in the specialty that most appealed to them. The interest of dental students towards the least appealing dental specialties needs to be developed to solve the problem of skewed distribution of the dental workforce in Nigeria. Our findings suggest that this may be accomplished by changing dental students’ perceptions of certain specialties, building on male students’ interests in job security and private practice potential, and the female students’ interests in family-friendly specialties and increasing flexibility in dental residency programmes.