Student Affairs

Technical Standards

The Dean and faculty's recommendation that a student be granted the DMD degree by the University of Mississippi Medical Center signifies that the recipient of that degree possesses the knowledge, skills and attitudes to provide care across a wide spectrum of dental health needs and to function effectively in varied clinical settings.

The dental practitioner must exhibit a unique combination of scientific and health care knowledge, technical abilities, communication and interpersonal skills, as well as professional attitudes and behaviors in order to deliver the dental health care that is required and expected of today's dental professional.

The University of Mississippi School of Dentistry has a responsibility for the welfare of patients treated at the school and a responsibility to graduate the best possible practitioners. Therefore, the School of Dentistry maintains certain minimum technical standards for admission to the school. Applicants must possess a basic core of skills and abilities that will allow them to successfully complete the dental curriculum and benefit fully from their professional education. As an integral part of their education, students are required to provide treatment for patients who seek care at the School of Dentistry. The school has the responsibility of ensuring the safety of those patients. This includes the completion of treatment safely and within an acceptable amount of time.

It is the responsibility of the candidate for admission to review the technical standards for admissions. To receive academic accommodations at UMMC, all students must contact the Office of Academic Support and complete the appropriate process.

Motor skills

All applicants must be able to meet the following technical standards: Candidates must have sufficient motor function to conduct various diagnostic and treatment procedures; to manipulate dental instruments and handpieces. These behaviors require both gross and fine muscular movements and coordination as well as sight, touch and manual dexterity and fully functioning wrists, hands, fingers and arms.

Candidates must be able to ensure that basic life support emergency procedures, including CPR, can be performed on all patients; transfer and position disabled patients personally or with assistance from auxiliary personnel; position themselves in an appropriate sitting or standing position so as to render dental care; position dental equipment including carts, stools and dental chair; operate hand or foot controls utilizing fine movements; operate high- and low-speed dental handpieces during dental treatment requiring controlled movements of less than one millimeter; utilize hand instrumentation including surgical instruments for dental procedures on hard and soft tissues; perform all necessary procedures in required educational exercises including activities in the preclinical laboratories; execute motor movements necessary to arrive at a diagnosis and treatment plan, and provide patient care including emergency treatment; perform motor functions to elicit information from patients or from simulations through palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic procedures utilizing instrument manipulation.

Sensory skills

Candidates must have functional use of the senses of vision, hearing, touch and smell in order to observe and learn effectively in the classroom, laboratory and clinical settings and, ultimately, to provide oral health care in a practice setting. These sensory skills must be sufficient to allow the student to acquire information through physical, laboratory and clinical means; to visualize intraoral and extraoral structures; to observe a patient accurately both close at hand and at a distance; and to obtain information from written documents, films, slides and video.

Candidates must be able to perform educational exercises, dental examinations, and treatment utilizing functions of vision (acuity, accommodation and adequate color differentiation), touch (tactile sense using direct and indirect palpation), hearing (distinguishing sounds of auscultation and percussion, and discerning audible signs of distress from a patient) and smell (enabling observation and discernment of normal and abnormal odoriferous conditions related to either the patient or environment) in order to correctly discriminate between normal and abnormal tissues or conditions during examination, diagnostic and treatment procedures; read charts, records, small print and handwritten notations; and interpret radiographs and other graphic images with and without assistive devices.

Communication skills

Candidates must have sufficient fluency in the English language to be able to speak, understand, read and write so as to obtain information from texts and lectures; communicate concepts; perceive and describe patient behaviors and emotional states; communicate effectively and sensitively with patients and all members of the health care team both orally and in writing. Candidates must be able to discuss, explain and exchange information with the patient at a level necessary to develop a health history to address health problems, to arrive at diagnoses and treatment plans and to give direction before, during and after treatment; to retrieve information from texts and lectures; to communicate concepts on written and oral examinations and to other health care workers/providers; and to communicate effectively in spoken and written English in classroom, laboratory and clinical settings.

Cognitive skills

Candidates must possess those cognitive skills necessary to problem solve in all educational and clinical settings, to accumulate, comprehend and apply information as part of learning and in the establishment of a diagnosis and treatment plan, and to provide oral health care. Candidates must demonstrate the ability to acquire, analyze, synthesize, integrate, measure, calculate and manage data and background knowledge in developing understanding and concepts, and to do so in educational and clinical settings; to perform these cognitive skills in a critical and logical problem solving format and to do so within a specific time limited framework; to comprehend three-dimensional and spatial relationships of structures; to make rational decisions regarding patient care; and to provide treatment within an acceptable time frame so as to ensure safety of the patient.

Behavioral skills

Candidates must demonstrate sufficient behavioral and social skills, professionalism and emotional health to successfully accomplish the responsibilities related to care of the dental patient, and to perform to the fulfillment of the full range of academic and clinical duties of a student. Candidates must be able to manage patients with a wide variety of moods and do so in a tactful, congenial and compassionate manner so as to avoid alienation and antagonism; possess sufficient physical ability to meet the demands of ongoing, concurrent classroom, laboratory and clinical educational exercises; adapt to a changing environment, display flexibility and function appropriately in the face of those uncertainties inherent in dental education; possess emotional health sufficient to carry out tasks, have good judgment and behave in a professional, reliable, mature and responsible manner; exhibit appropriate motivation and a genuine interest in caring for others; exercise good judgment in prompt completion of responsibilities attendant to the educational process and to the diagnosis, treatment planning and care of patients; possess interpersonal skills and attributes of integrity, empathy, stability and punctuality to be able to function effectively as part of the dental health care team.