Minimum Skill Standards for Admission and Retention


Indiana University School of Dentistry
Doctor of Dental Surgery Program
Minimum Skill Standards for Admission and Retention

Approved by Faculty Council
December, 1999


Admission to Indiana University School of Dentistry's D.D.S. program is open to qualified individuals and complies with all applicable state and federal non-discrimination laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Indiana Civil Rights Law.  Indiana University School of Dentistry (IUSD) will consider applicants who 1) have completed the appropriate application process, 2) have fulfilled all prerequisites, 3) are capable of acquiring the necessary knowledge, and 4) have the ability to perform or learn to perform the skills specified in these standards.  The faculty at Indiana University School of Dentistry has determined that the following skills are essential to the curriculum and are necessary to ensure that graduates of the program are fully prepared to practice dentistry.  It is important to note that although these skills are necessary for admission and retention, successful completion of the D.D.S. program will require meeting other academic and professional standards as specified in the curriculum and in other institutional policies.

The faculty at IUSD recognize that the award of the Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) degree carries with it the full authority of the institution and communicates to the public that the individual who has earned this degree is competent to practice dentistry.  The D.D.S. is a comprehensive degree, unique in that the graduate, after passing a licensing examination, is permitted to offer patient care in all areas within dentistry.  This means that every dental student must acquire and demonstrate the didactic knowledge, as well as motor, sensory/observational, communication, cognitive, and behavioral skills, in order to complete the curriculum and to be fully prepared for dental practice.

The faculty at IUSD recognizes that the D.D.S. curriculum is unique and requires a myriad of technical, intellectual, and interpersonal skills of its graduates.  The faculty is mindful that the curriculum is stressful, requiring both emotional stability and physical stamina.  Applicants to the program thus must possess the skills and abilities that will allow them to successfully complete the course of study and receive the full benefit of the education.  It is important to note that during the D.D.S. program, students are required to both perform and direct treatment on IUSD's patients.  Ultimately, the faculty has the responsibility of ensuring the safety and proper care of these patients.  This includes the completion of treatment safely and within a reasonable amount of time.  Because the faculty is mindful of the rigors of the curriculum, the immense responsibility for safe patient treatment, and the fact that the D.D.S. signifies readiness for dental practice, a student cane be denied admission to the D.D.S. program or disenrolled from the program if accommodating a student's disability would result in undue hardship to the institution, would pose a direct threat to patients, or would compromise the academic integrity of the program or create a fundamental alteration in the degree program.

Essential Skills

The faculty at Indiana University School of Dentistry has determined that the D.D.S. student must be able to meet the following technical standards for admission to or retention in the program.

Motor Skills

Students must have or be able to acquire sufficient motor function so that they are able to execute movements required to proved general care and treatment to patients, both during the D.D.S. program and at completion of the curriculum.  This means the student must possess motor skills necessary to direct palpation, bimanual manipulation, fine tactile perception, and other diagnostic maneuvers, as well as basic laboratory procedures.  Such activities require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and functional uses of the senses of touch and vision.

Students must be able to perform basic life support procedures, including CPR, and position and reposition themselves around the patient and dental chair either in a standing or sitting position.  Students must be able to operate foot controls utilizing fine movements, operate high and low speed handpieces which require controlled intraoral and extraoral movements of less than one millimeter, and utilize hand instrumentation, including scalpels for surgical procedures.

Sensory/Observational Skills

Students must be able to master a defined level of information as presented though demonstrations and experiences in the biomedical and dental sciences.   This includes but is not limited to information conveyed through microbiological cultures and microscopic images of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states.  Students must be able to efficiently acquire information from written documents and to visualize information presented in images on paper, film, slides, or video.  Students must interpret radiographic and other graphic images, with or without the use of assistive devices.  Students must have functional use of visual, auditory and tactile sensation.

In practice, a dentist must be able to observe a patient accurately, both at a distance and close at hand, and must notice and appreciate nonverbal communication when performing dental operations or administering medications.   Thus, students in the D.D.S. program must be able to perform visual and tactile dental examinations and treatment, including the use of visual acuity, accommodation, and color vision to discern the differences and variations in color, shape and general appearance between normal and abnormal soft and hard tissues.  Use of tactile senses may be either direct palpation or indirect through instrumentation.  Students must also possess the visual acuity to read charts, records, small print and handwritten notation, and distinguish color intraorally and extraorally.  The type and degree of color blindness will determine a student's limitations.  Of color blindness, daltonism is surmountable, while achromatic vision is not.

Communication Skills

Good communication skills are essential for any health care provider and are stressed in the D.D.S. curriculum.  Therefore, a student must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with patients, faculty, staff and students in both oral and written forms.

Because successful dental practice depends on timely and efficient rendering of patient care services, students in the D.D.S. program must have sufficiently facility in English to obtain information from a variety of learning resources, convey concepts and knowledge on written examinations administered during a specific time period, elicit patient histories, problems and symptoms, record in and retrieve information from patient charts, and coordinate patient care with all members of the health care team.

Cognitive Skills

Students must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, interpret, integrate, synthesize and diagnose.  Problem solving, a critical skill demanded dentists, requires all of these intellectual abilities.  Because dental care must be rendered in a timely and orderly fashion, students must be able to demonstrate cognitive skills in specified time periods and setting.

Behavioral Skills

Students must possess the emotional health and stability required for full utilization of his or her intellectual abilities, for the exercise of good judgment, in the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to diagnoses and care of patients, and in the development of mature sensitive and effective relationships with patients, staff and other health care practitioners.  Students must be able to tolerate physically and emotionally challenging workloads and to function effectively under stress, while in the D.D.S. program and at completion of the degree.  They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, to function in a climate of uncertainty in health care and to treat patients with compassion and integrity.

Procedures

Although the faculty at Indiana University School of Dentistry may not inquire whether an applicant has a disability prior to making a decision on admission, an applicant to the D.D.S. program may disclose a disability for which he or she wishes accommodation during the application process.  If this occurs, the Director of Admissions will request that the applicant provide documentation of the disability.   Requirements for documentation are appended.  The applicant should submit, or the Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs shall forward on the applicant's behalf, a written request for accommodation and documentation of the disability to the IUPUI Office of Adaptive Educational Services (AES).  AES will take all steps necessary to review the request and documentation, establish whether the applicant has a qualified disability for which an accommodation is due, and make or confirm recommendations for appropriate accommodations, if any, to the D.D.S. Admissions Committee.  The process shall be interactive, involving full input from the applicant, appropriate Indiana University School of Dentistry personnel, AES and other IUPUI and external office possessing the technical, medical, and administrative expertise as needed to evaluate the request.  The D.D.S. Admissions Committee will consider the applicant based on the published criteria for admission for all applicants.  The Committee will make a determination as to whether the applicant can perform the essential skills of the D.D.S. curriculum, including the skills described above, taking into account the accommodations that the applicant has requested or any effective alternative reasonable accommodations.

If a student discloses a disability after admission to the D.D.S.  program and requests an accommodation, the student will be asked to provide documentation of disability so that appropriate accommodations may be considered.   Requirements for documentation are appended.  Such a request should be initiated with the Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs at Indiana University School of Dentistry.  Indiana University School of Dentistry shall follow the same procedures for evaluating the request as described above.  The Curriculum Committee shall make a determination as to whether a recommended accommodation can be granted or if any effective alternative reasonable accommodations are possible.

Indiana University School of Dentistry will provide reasonable accommodations but is not required to make modification or provide auxiliary aids or services that would fundamentally alter the nature and substance of the D.D.S. curriculum, present undue hardship for the institution, pose a direct threat to the safety of patients or others, or compromise the academic integrity of the D.D.S. program.   The student must be able to perform the essential skills of the D.D.S. curriculum, including the skills described above, with or without accommodation, in order to begin or continue in the program.

Decisions where a student is denied admission or disenrolled due to undue hardship, safety risk, or significant programmatic changes as a result of an inability to meet these minimum standards for admission or retention will be fully documented.  Documents regarding a student's or applicant's disability and requests for accommodation shall be treated in a confidential manner and maintained separately from his of her admissions, academic or other files.  While the Indiana University School of Dentistry shall maintain files regarding the decision making process with respect to accommodation requests, Adaptive Educational Services is the repository for all medical certifications, records and other documentation relating to the student's of applicant's disability.


This policy is modified to meet the needs of Indiana University School of Dentistry from a sample draft document from the American Association of Dental Schools (Journal of Dental Education, 62 (5):387-90, 1988).