Dental education is mainly composed of three parts: The first one is academic learning that is Lectures. The second part is Simulation laboratory courses and the third part is Clinical skill training5. The virtual classes on digital platforms have taken care of the first part. Preclinical and clinical training is most important for students, as they learn various manual and cognitive skills that prepare the students to enter the dental profession6. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the confidence and motivation of future dentists are jeopardized.
This study reveals that 52.9% of dental students are highly motivated to work as health care professionals. Another study reported motivation by medical students to be 62.2% during the COVID-19 pandemic7. Other findings indicate that the morale of the health professional workers was low in the beginning but was gradually built receiving motivational and psychological support from the general public and officials8.
In our study 53.9% of students expected to work on patients in hospitals in the pandemic. Also, 16.7% of students expected to assist clinicians in hospitals at the time of the pandemic. Similar to studies showed 36.1% of students agree on assisting clinicians9.
The students felt that the basic skills to work in the hospital were acquired by only 32.3% the findings are similar to previous studies carried on medical students7. 42.3% of interns feel that they have acquired the required skills to be working in hospitals, only 17.5% of the third-year students feel that they have acquired skills to be working in the hospital. The reason behind this may be because interns have completed their posting in all departments in final and third year but third years did not complete posting in all departments due to lockdown
When asked about working confidently in a hospital 49.5% of students were confident to assist during a pandemic, which was not similar to the previous study5 where only 8.7 % of students strongly agreed to work confidently. Interns were more confident but only 36.3% of third-year students were confident. The difference between them may be due to patient exposure they had in their clinical postings.
There was also fear among the students of getting infected (52.7%) which is less as compared to results from Turkey where 82.3% of dental students are afraid of getting infected with the coronavirus. This difference may be due to of the overall present pandemic conditions in both countries. However students from both countries are equally worried to getting their loved one infected because of them as they are working in hospitals10.
Researches have shown that the lack of PPE has affected the morale of healthcare workers and other frontline warriors in fighting the coronavirus disease11. To conserve PPE for those on the frontlines fighting the coronavirus and to keep patients home, the ADA recommended on March 16, 2020, that dental offices should restrict their practice to only emergency cases12. Even in our study majority of students are afraid to work without PPE kits even though India has managed the condition very well and there is no shortage of PPE kits in India11.
Studies have shown that students seek career advice and approval from their parents13. This is more so true in the Indian scenario. Parents share equal fear of COVID-19 for their children.
Hence in our study, we asked students about their parents 41.5 % agreed that their parents are will to send their children to the hospital for work.
And when asked for others what if their parents did not permit them to work a hospital, 53.2% will go by their parents' will.
The whole dental fraternity is worried about the future of dentistry and dental students. Because due to the pandemic clinics have been suspended. Third-year and final-year students are not exposed to dental clinics and patients. Interns are not able to attend their clinical rotatory postings. And because of this 62% of respondents feel that they are less prepared for next year.