Dentistry as a professional career: the views of London's secondary school pupils (2011-2017)

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Aim To explore young people's perceptions of dentistry as a potential future career, including features which would attract or deter them from wanting to become dentists and the perceived influences on these views.

Methods Purposive sampling of London schools was undertaken. Exploration of academically-able, science-minded young people's (aged 14-18 years) perceptions of dentistry as a potential career was achieved through a series of focus groups conducted at various types of school in the Greater London region (13 focus groups and 91 students). A topic guide, informed by the literature and previous research, explored the perceived motivating and demotivating factors and associated influences, identified by these pupils, on studying dentistry at university. Data were analysed using framework methodology.

Results Multiple factors were identified by London secondary school pupils that would attract them to dentistry. Pull factors were: 1) science-based; 2) status and security - extrinsic rewards; 3) structure of service provision; 4) career opportunities; 5) social interactions; 6) personal skills and care - intrinsic rewards; and 7) being a vocational degree. Push factors away from the career included lack of diversity within the job and the 'negative image' of dentists, with medicine having greater social status and more varied career options. Individual and wider influences on pupils' perceptions included their personal experience with dentistry, social and community networks, the school environment, as well as system and societal level influencers.

Conclusions These findings suggest that a wide range of influences determine teenagers' perceptions of a dental career. Pupils in London schools report similar features of dentistry as being attractive as dental students, as well as its importance as a vocational degree, and although dentistry appears to lack status and profile when compared with medicine, it may be more acceptable in relation to its lifestyle. Individual sociodemographic characteristics and wider environmental factors may influence the relative importance of these features.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-406
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Issue number6
Early online date25 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2022


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