Technical Standards


Technical Standards for Students in the College of Dentistry

The goal of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, College of Dentistry is to prepare students for the practice of the professions of dentistry or dental hygiene. This includes undergraduate, professional or graduate education, where applicable. Graduate dental hygiene education requires that the accumulation of scientific knowledge be accompanied by the simultaneous acquisition of essential skills, functions and professional attitudes and behavior. The faculty of the College of Dentistry have a responsibility to graduate the best possible practitioners and graduate students; therefore, admission to educational programs in the College is offered only to those who present the highest qualifications for education and training in the art and science of the respective health professions.

Applicants to programs of the College must possess the following general qualities: critical thinking, sound judgment, emotional stability and maturity, empathy, physical and mental stamina, and the ability to learn and function in a wide variety of didactic and clinical settings. Graduates of the College must have the minimal skills, essential functions and knowledge to function in a broad variety of clinical settings, while rendering a wide spectrum of healthcare services.

The faculty of the College of Dentistry have a responsibility for the welfare of the patients treated or otherwise affected by students enrolled in the College as well as for the educational welfare of its students relative to the educational programs of the College. In order to fulfill this responsibility the Committees on Admissions for the various professional programs of the College maintain that certain minimal technical standards must be present in applicants to the various educational programs of the College. Candidates for degree programs in the college must have the following essentials: motor skills; sensory/observational skills; communication skills; intellectual-conceptual, integrative, and quantitative abilities; and behavioral/social skills and professionalism.

The Committees on Admissions, in accordance with Section 504 of the 1973 Vocational Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (PL101-336) have established the aforementioned essential functions of students in the educational programs offered by the College of Dentistry.

These Committees on Admissions will consider for admission applicants who demonstrate the ability to perform, or to learn to perform, the essential skills listed in this document. The College must ensure that patients are not placed in jeopardy by students with impaired intellectual, physical or emotional functions. Students will be judged not only on their scholastic accomplishments, but also on their physical and emotional capacities to meet the full requirements of the College's curricula and to graduate as skilled and effective practitioners.

The essential abilities listed in this document can be accomplished through direct student response, the use of prosthetic or orthotic devices, or through personal assistance, e.g., readers, signers, note-takers. The responsibility for the purchase of prosthetic or orthotic devices serving a student in meeting the abilities noted remains with the student and/or agency supporting the student. The College will assist with this accomplishment, as required by law and institutional policy.

Upon admission, a student who discloses a properly certified disability will receive reasonable accommodation but must be able to perform the essential functions of the curriculum and meet the standards described herein for the program in which the student is enrolled. Possible accommodations include opportunities for individual and group counseling, peer counseling, linkages with community services, faculty advisory committees whose members are aware of disabled students and their needs, career counseling, assistance with job searches and interview skills, and extended test taking time, if and when appropriate. Students seeking accommodations should initiate their request in the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Dentistry, S107, Dunn Dental Building, 875 Union Avenue or the Office of Students with Disabilities, Student Academic Support Services at 8 S. Dunlap, Room BB9, General Education Building.

In addition to the general standards described above, each professional program requires additional specific standards.

Revised: February 2004

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Technical Standards for Dental Hygiene Students


Additional General Skills:

The practice of dental hygiene is composed of skills in communication, patient management, time management, cognitive assimilation, and fine motor skills. Skills in each of these areas are required on a daily basis.

Time management skills are needed both in the educational and clinical practice phases as the practitioner is presented with a variety of deadlines and time critical tasks. Often, more than one task competes for a given block of time and the prospective student is expected to be able to prioritize the tasks and have them completed in a timely fashion. Functioning under time and patient management constraints is often encountered. Additionally, the student will be expected to comply with a variety of clinical and workplace rules and regulations related to successful and safe clinical practice. More specific skill requirements follow.

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Visual and Perceptual Skills:

The practice of clinical dental hygiene mandates that the practitioner have extremely fine motor control with correspondingly high hand-eye coordination. The prospective student is expected to have binocular vision with discrimination/perception to 1.0 mm or better. Visual acuity should be corrected to 20/40 or better with the ability to accommodate at a distance of 10" or less. Color vision deficiencies should be limited to a single color. As a part of visual/perceptual coordination, the student must be able to observe laboratory demonstrations and patient conditions as a part of clinical treatment.

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Other Sensory Skills:

Should 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 should be intact and functioning normally as fine motor and tactile skills are an essential component of this profession.

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Motor Skills:

Candidates for admission 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 candidate. Providing dental hygiene care requires both gross and fine motor control. The candidate should have full manual dexterity including the functioning of both arms, both wrists, both hands, and all fingers. Necessary clinical skills involve procedures requiring (but not limited to) grasping, fingering, pinching, pushing, pulling, holding, extending, and rotation.

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Intellectual, Conceptional and Cognitive Skills:

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

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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.

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Emotional Stability/ Personal Temperament:

Direct patient contact often involves stressors that must be dealt with rationally. High levels of mental and emotional stability are required on a daily basis. The student must be able to maintain a professional attitude and appearance. Must be able to deal with stress produced by course load; clinical requirements, and patient attitude; must have the ability to adapt to change and be able to function and focus in an environment with multiple extraneous stimuli.

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Revised: 7/6/2007


College of Dentistry

5th Floor North
875 Union Ave.
Memphis, TN 38163
Phone: 901-448-2528