Dental professionalism: perceptions of undergraduate students
Introduction Dental Professionalism is a culture sensitive theme. Using sanctions based on severity of lapses in professionalism is useful to enhance academic professionalism among undergraduate dental students. This study aims to explore the perceptions of undergraduate dental students regarding the levels of sanctions to be applied for first-time offense with no mitigating circumstances.
Material and Methods: This cross-sectional study was carried out from January to June 2017, and the participants were undergraduate students (N= 171) of a public dental college located in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The study instrument used was a pre-validated Dundee Polyprofessionalism Inventory I: Academic Integrity that comprised of thirty-four survey items. Data were collected by using online as well as printed hard copies. Descriptive and inferential statistics were calculated using IBM SPSS version 23.
Results: Out of 209 students to whom the questionnaires were distributed, 171 (81.81%) returned back the forms with their complete responses. Overall preclinical students (year 1 and 2) were two times more as compared to clinical students (year 3 and 4) who returned back the questionnaire and female students were almost double (65%) in giving their response as compared to male students. ‘Completing work for another class fellow’ was given the least sanction by both female and male students. In contrast, the strongest sanctions were recommended by female students for two survey statements, i.e. ‘engaging in substance misuse such as drugs etc’ and ‘Sexually harassing a university employee or fellow student’.
Conclusions: There are more variances than congruence regarding perceptions of professionalism among the participants. The majority of students were also found to recommend the sanction of “ignore” for a behaviour, a response, which otherwise was absent from many other participants’ response. There is a need to introduce professionalism course as part of the curriculum to develop the integrity of this essential element of the personality.