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Confidence in dental care and public health competency during rural practice among new dental graduates in Thailand

Authors Wisaijohn T, Suphanchaimat R, Topothai T, Seneerattanaprayul P, Pudpong N, Putthasri W

Received 14 June 2014

Accepted for publication 18 September 2014

Published 16 December 2014 Volume 2015:6 Pages 1—9


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Dr Anwarul Azim Majumder

Thunthita Wisaijohn,1 Rapeepong Suphanchaimat,1,2 Thitikorn Topothai,1 Parinda Seneerattanaprayul,1 Nareerut Pudpong,1 Weerasak Putthasri1

1International Health Policy Program, Ministry of Public Health, Nonthaburi, Thailand; 2Banphai Hospital, KhonKaen, Thailand

Objective: The dental profession has played an important role in the development of the health system in Thailand. However, it is not known if dental graduates' standards of knowledge, skills, and capabilities are fulfilling the health needs of Thais. This study aimed to assess the level of confidence in dental public health competency among final-year dental students who graduated in 2013.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 571 new dental graduates who participated in an official meeting arranged by the Ministry of Public Health in 2013. Self-administered questionnaires were used for collecting data on their confidence levels in selected public-health competencies. Of the total graduates, 72.5% anonymously responded to the questionnaire. Descriptive and inferential statistics, factor analysis, and stepwise regression were applied for data analysis.
Results: The majority of respondents expressed confidence in their ability to care for patients, but less confidence in public-health and administration competencies. The results also show that there was no significant association between demographic and educational profiles of respondents and confidence in their clinical competency. However, significantly more students who graduated from schools located outside Bangkok and vicinity rated themselves as competent in public health (coefficient = 0.333, P=0.021).
Conclusion: New dentists who graduated from dental schools in Bangkok and vicinity had lower levels of confidence in their public-health competencies compared to those who graduated from dental schools outside Bangkok. Thus, working in rural areas after graduation could help new dentists gain more experience in rural practice, leading to higher confidence levels. The findings from this study could contribute to the improvement of the dental curriculum and contract-bonding policy to work in rural areas.

Keywords: competency, public health, dental school, rural area, factor analysis, stepwise regression

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