Technical Standards for Dental Hygiene Students

For admission to the Bachelor of Science and Masters of Dental Hygiene programs at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, students are expected to be able to successfully meet the Technical Standards as outlined below. Students are required to sign the Technical Standards Commitment form indicating their understanding and ability to meet these standards either with or without accommodations (for persons with documented disabilities.) Questions about these technical standards should be directed to the program director.

UTHSC receives applications from a diverse body of potential students including those with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations to help students meet these technical standards will be provided where appropriate. Any student wishing accommodations should contact the Student Academic Support Service. Information regarding Disability Support Services can be found in the Catalog.

In the event a student cannot fulfill these Technical Standards with or without reasonable accommodations at any time in their program, the student will be ineligible for admission or continued enrollment in the program.

In addition to ensuring that students can meet the intellectual, emotional and physical criteria for the Dental Hygiene Program, it is imperative that the student possess the ability to provide for the safety of patients and others. This is the foundation of all Technical Standards and if this cannot be demonstrated, the student is deemed unable to meet the criteria outlined by the Technical Standards.

Visual and Perceptual Skills

The practice of clinical dental hygiene requires that the student possess fine motor skills to hold small dental instruments while working within the limited confines of the oral cavity. Depth perception and excellent hand eye coordination are required when using sharp instruments to enter the oral cavity and perform functions within the oral cavity.

Other Sensory Skills

Students must have correctable hearing in at least one ear and be able to develop reasonable skills of percussion and auscultation. Sensory and motor innervation of the hand and arm muscles must be intact and functioning normally as fine motor and tactile skills are an essential component of this profession.

Motor Skills

Students must have sufficient motor function to elicit information from a patient by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic modalities. Candidates must also be able to perform the motor movement skills necessary to render clinical dental hygiene treatment, and have the physical strength to move themselves (by walker, cane or crutches as necessary) to a position enabling them to provide dental care. Additionally, the candidate must possess the strength to assist a patient in transferring themselves to and from a dental chair, and whenever necessary perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation for an extended period of time. Fine motor skills are expected of every student. The candidate should have full manual dexterity including the functioning of both arms, both wrists, both hands, both thumbs, and three fingers on each hand. Necessary clinical skills involve procedures requiring (but not limited to) grasping, fingering, pinching, pushing, pulling, holding, extending, and rotation.

Intellectual, Conceptual and Cognitive Skills

Students must have the ability to measure, assess, calculate reason, analyze, and synthesize data. Problem solving, critical thinking and diagnosis (which include obtaining, interpreting, and documenting information) are essential skills. The ability to understand and comprehend three dimensional relationships is necessary.

Communication Skills

The student is expected to be able to communicate clearly in English at a level of understanding appropriate to the ability of an individual patient to understand. This communication ability is expected both in the oral and written form. The clinical practice of dental hygiene requires the ability to accurately transfer gathered data into a patient record. Included in this area is therapeutic communication in which a candidate is expected to have (or be able to develop) skill in coaching, facilitating, and touching.

Emotional Stability/ Personal Temperament

Direct interaction with patients requires that students are able to routinely demonstrate critical thinking, respond calmly, evenly and efficiently, and utilize good listening and communication skills. Students must have the ability to handle the stressors of academically rigorous coursework, as well as stress associated with working in a busy clinical setting with a variety of patients under time and patient management constraints. Time management skills are needed to meet deadlines and time critical tasks associated with professional education and practice. Prioritizing tasks to meet deadlines is expected. Compliance with clinical and workplace rules and regulations related to successful and safe clinical practice is required. The student must possess and demonstrate professional attributes and appearance.

Department of Dental Hygiene

930 Madison Avenue
Suite 600
Memphis, TN 38163
Phone: (901) 448-6230