Background: Each year, more than 200 international dental graduates start U.S. specialty trainings to become specialists. It is unknown if their life satisfaction is associated with any dental career-related factor before residencies (e.g. dental school class rank, research experience, or private practice experience) and after residencies (e.g. staying in the U.S., teaching status, workplace, or board certification). This cross-sectional study aimed to identify these potential factors by surveying Taiwanese dental graduates who pursued U.S. residencies. Methods: Life satisfaction was measured with a structured questionnaire, Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS), which includes five statements on a 5-point Likert scale. Online surveys were sent out to 290 Taiwanese dental graduates who were known to pursue U.S. residencies. T-test, one way analysis of variance, and multivariable adjusted generalized linear model (GLM) were used to assess the differences of mean SWLS scores from different variables. Results: Surveys were completed by 158 dentists. Mean SWLS score of 125 specialists was higher (p = 0.0007) than the score of 33 residents. For the 125 specialists, multivariable adjusted GLM demonstrated better life satisfaction was positively associated with multiple independent factors, such as having research experience, being ranked in the top 26 ~ 50% of the class in dental school, starting U.S. residency within 4 years after dental school, starting residency before year 1996, and specializing in endodontics (vs. periodontics). Life satisfaction was not associated with any factors after residency (e.g. staying in the U.S. afterwards, teaching status, or workplace), but better mean life satisfaction score was significantly associated with being American specialty board certified (p < 0.001) for the specialists in the 26 ~ 75% of their class in dental school. For the 33 residents, better mean life satisfaction score was associated with better dental school class rank in both bivariate (p = 0.020) and multivariable adjusted GLM (p = 0.004) analyses. Conclusions: The life satisfaction of Taiwanese dental graduates pursuing U.S. residencies might be associated with some professional factors, such as research experience, dental school class rank, residency timing, specialty type, and specialty board certification. We hope our results may provide some objective information on making career decisions for international dental graduates/students who are preparing for U.S. residency.
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