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J Prosthodont. 2009 Apr;18(3):283-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-849X.2008.00407.x. Epub 2008 Dec 29.

Differential factors that influence applicant selection of a prosthodontic residency program.

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  • 1Department of Restorative Dentistry and Biomaterials Sciences, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.



The main objectives of this study were to identify current prosthodontic resident demographics and to analyze factors that may influence applicants in selecting prosthodontics as a career, as well as a specific prosthodontic program. We also investigated the influence of age, gender, relationship status, and year in program on applicant decisions.


Two questionnaires were mailed to all prosthodontic residents (N = 304) registered with the American College of Prosthodontists (ACP) Central Office. Part I assessed resident demographics and factors influencing choice of specialty. Part II assessed factors influencing the selection of a specific prosthodontic program.


Completed surveys were obtained from 193 of 304 (63.4%) of all prosthodontic residents registered at the ACP Central Office. The completed surveys represented approximately 48% of the total population of prosthodontic residents in the United States. Demographic data revealed that 37% and 62% of the respondents were female and male, respectively (1% did not report gender). The mean age of the respondents was 30.3 years. More residents reported being married than either single or in a relationship. Most residents were accepted to their top choice program. Part I of the survey revealed that the complexity and challenge of treatment planning/treatment, ability to lead multidisciplinary cases, possession of skills/talents suited to the specialty, enjoyment of clinical work, and the intellectual content of the specialty were reported to be the five most influential factors in choosing prosthodontics as a career. Part II demonstrated that applicants place a high emphasis on clinical education, their impression of the program director, advice from predoctoral mentors, their impression of resident satisfaction and happiness, and the opportunity to place dental implants. The factors of least importance are climate and opportunities to moonlight, teach, and conduct research.


Dental students consider the complexity and challenge of treatment planning and execution of prosthodontic treatment to be the most important factors in the decision to specialize in prosthodontics. Mentors and predoctoral instructors also strongly influence students. Applicants consider clinical education to be the most important determinant in program selection, but are also influenced by their impression of the program director and his/her philosophy of training. Faculty board certification and the opportunity to place dental implants are also important factors. Relationship status can significantly affect an applicant's choice of program. Teaching and research opportunities appear to be of minor importance to applicants. These findings can be used by the ACP and/or program directors to understand which factors are important to students, enabling them to assess the compatibility of their programs with applicants and modify existing curricula to make their programs more attractive to top candidates.

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