COVID-19 and Dental and Dental Hygiene Students’ Career Plans

D. T. García, A. A. Akinkugbe, M. Mosavel, C. S. Smith, T. H. Brickhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: The aims of this study were to investigate whether dental and dental hygiene students’ career plans postgraduation were affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and to examine wellness and readiness for clinical practice among students who reported a change in career plans. Methods: An anonymous online REDCap survey was developed and emailed to 436 dental and dental hygiene students at a US dental school. The survey consisted of 81 questions that covered demographics, career plans postgraduation, and readiness and wellness measures. An open-ended question assessing how students’ career plans have changed during the pandemic was also included. Results: A total of 252 students completed the survey, of whom 11.5% reported that their plans for future dental practice have changed since the COVID-19 outbreak. Students who reported a change to their career plans had significantly higher mean perceived stress (20.1 vs. 16.3; P = 0.003) and anxiety (9.2 vs. 6.2; P = 0.004) scores and lower mean resilience (18.9 vs. 20.9; P = 0.01) scores than those who reported no change to their career plans. Concerns were raised regarding the limited employment opportunities, long-term stability of the dental profession, and the interruptions to clinical education and licensure examinations consequent to the pandemic. Conclusions: A comprehensive effort inclusive of adeptly designed clinical and curriculum experiences paired with wellness interventions and support tailored to students is needed. These measures need to support trainees across varying years in training and resilience levels to be effective for dental and dental hygiene students as they approach their future career intentions in the dental profession. Additional longitudinal research is needed to assess if change in career intentions during the COVID-19 pandemic corresponds with actual change postpandemic and affects the dental profession. Knowledge Transfer Statement: This study explores the potential short-term change in career intentions of dental hygiene and dental students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings can inform workforce planning as well as interventions developed and implemented by academic dental institutions to support student wellness during unexpected and prolonged emergency situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-160
Number of pages8
JournalJDR Clinical and Translational Research
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • career choice
  • dental education
  • dental students
  • health workforce
  • wellness

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