Choice of dental specialties among intending residents in a tertiary health institution in Nigeria
Objective: Various specialties exist in the field of dentistry and are geared towards meeting the specific dental health needs of society. This study was aimed at identifying factors influencing choice of dental specialties among intending residents.
Methods: This was a questionnaire based cross-sectional study of all intending dental residents seeking postgraduate training in various specialties at the University of Benin Teaching hospital in September 2015. The questionnaire comprised of socio-demographics, specialty applied for and reasons for choice of specialty. The data collected was analyzed using IBM SPSS version 21.0.
Results: A total of 82 respondents were recruited for the study with age range of 25- 44 years and a mean age of 32.43±4.04. There was a male: female ratio of 1:0.6. Oral and maxillofacial surgery had the highest number of applicants (30.5%) with the least number in Oral Medicine (2.4%). Age, gender and marital status had no significant association with choice of specialty. However, majority of males (88.0%) chose Oral and maxillofacial surgery compared to females (12.0%), while all the females (100%) chose to specialize in Periodontics. The most frequent reason for choice of specialty was “Personal desire”. All the respondents who applied for Prosthetics and Periodontics felt they possessed the skills suited for the specialty while a significant number of respondents in Conservative Dentistry (85.7%), Paedodontics (80.0%) and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (72.0%) were influenced by the presence of mentors and role models in the specialty, hence their choice and this was statistically significant (p=0.049) . All the respondents who applied for Oral Pathology stated that their specialty choice afforded them with research opportunities and this was followed by 85.7% of those who applied for Community Dentistry. On the other hand, no respondent from Paedodontics felt their specialty choice afforded them with research opportunities. All the respondents across all specialties except two respondents from Community Dentistry stated that family pressure had no influence in their choice of specialty and this was also statistically significant. (p=0.009)
Conclusion: There is inequality in quest for specialization in the different dental specialties in Nigeria. There is need for more role models and mentors across all specialties and modalities to increase the personal desire of prospective applicants