Technical Standards

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UFCD Office of Academic Affairs at 352-273-5950 or

Minimum Technical Standards for University of Florida College of Dentistry

This webpage defines the nonacademic criteria for admission, advancement through the curriculum and graduation from the DMD program at the University of Florida College of Dentistry (UFCD). The College is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities and employment without regard to race, creed, color religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations, genetic information and veteran status.


UFCD provides this description of technical standards to inform prospective and enrolled candidates of the skills required in the provision of oral health care services throughout dental school. These standards reflect specific performance abilities and characteristics that are necessary to successfully complete the requirements of the dental education program at UFCD. People interested in applying for admission to UFCD programs should review these standards to develop a better understanding of the abilities and characteristics necessary to successfully complete the program. UFCD complies with the requirements and spirit of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Therefore, the College will endeavor to make reasonable accommodations for candidates with disabilities who are otherwise qualified in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities can be made so long as such accommodations do not require a change in fundamental program requirements of the curriculum, create a direct threat to the health or safety of others, or create an undue burden to the College of Dentistry.

The College recognizes that the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree carries with it the full authority of the institution and communicates to those who might seek the services of the bearer that the graduate is competent to practice dentistry. Therefore, the candidate must demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that the faculty has determined are essential for the practice of dentistry and its specialties. The candidate must acquire cognitive, technical, behavioral and accurate self-assessment skills to negotiate the curriculum. All courses in the curriculum are required to assure graduates are competent clinicians.

The following technical standards describe the fundamental and essential functions that candidates must demonstrate in order to fulfill the requirements of the dental education program that are required for advancement through and graduation from the program. Candidates must possess the skills and abilities that will allow them to successfully complete the course of study and receive the full benefit of their education. While enrolled, candidates must perform treatment on the College’s patients. The College has the responsibility for ensuring the safety of these patients. Treatment must be completed safely and within an acceptable time.

The technical skill areas include motor, sensory/observation, communication, cognitive/conceptual, professionalism and behavioral/social skills. Continued enrollment and graduation will depend on the successful demonstration of both the knowledge and the skills listed below. The Student Performance Evaluation Committee (SPEC) will monitor each candidate’s demonstration of such knowledge and skills.

Motor Skills

General: A candidate should have the level of manual dexterity necessary to execute the fine movements required to provide the “standard of general dental care” and treatment to patients within a specified amount of time. The “standard of general dental care” is defined as “the degree of care and skill which is expected of a reasonable competent dentist acting in the same or similar circumstances.” For candidates at UFCD, the “standard of general dental care” will be determined by the dental faculty, administration and SPEC during the normal course of the curriculum.

Specific: It is required that a candidate possess the manual motor skills necessary to directly perform diagnostic and treatment maneuvers associated with the practice of general dentistry. Such maneuvers require coordination of both gross and fine (precision and strength) motor movements, equilibrium and functional uses of the senses of touch, vision and functional communication.

A candidate must be able to perform basic life support (including CPR), transfer and position patients with disabilities and position and reposition oneself around patients in various treatment settings in a standing or sitting position. The candidate must be able to operate dental equipment controls utilizing fine hand movements, position, move dental instruments and move in all directions, including indirect vision, within 0.5 millimeter of tolerance. A candidate must be able to coordinate their efforts with co-workers, including dental assistants, to perform appropriate care. Candidates must be able to work in the proper ergonomic positions appropriate to the delivery of dental treatment for extended times. A candidate must be able to operate controls with both hands, fingers and feet concomitantly, use high-speed or low-speed dental hand pieces for tooth preparation procedures and use hand instrumentation, including scalpels for surgical procedures. All of these skills must be performed within reasonable patient treatment time periods, either in simulation or clinical patient care, as determined by the faculty to simulate real-time professional dental care. A candidate must be able to maintain strength, posture, reach and manipulate equipment to all positions in order to control the operating pre-clinical and clinical environments.

Sensory/Observation: Basic Sciences

General: A candidate must be able to acquire a defined level of required information as presented through demonstrations and experiences in the basic and dental sciences.

Specific: This includes, but is not limited to 1) information conveyed through physiologic, pharmacological and other demonstrations, 2) microscopic images of microorganisms and human or animal tissues in normal and pathologic states and 3) demonstrations of techniques using dental models. A candidate must be able to acquire information from written documents and to visualize and evaluate information presented in images from paper, films, slides, video and computer. A candidate must be able to interpret radiographs (x-rays) and other graphic images, with or without the use of assistive devices. While using appropriate enhancement of sensory modalities such as microscopes, stethoscopes, etc., a candidate must have functional use of visual, auditory, and somatic sensation.

Sensory/Observation: Clinical Sciences

General: A candidate must be able to observe a patient accurately, at a distance and close-up, and observe and comprehend non-verbal communications when performing general dental treatment or administering medications.

Specific: A candidate must be able to perform visual and tactile dental examinations and treatments that require the use of sight and touch, including the use of visual acuity, with or without accommodation, to discern fine detail, focus at a variety of distances and discern slight differences and variations in color, shape and general appearance between normal and abnormal soft and hard tissues. The use of tactile senses may be either directly by palpation or indirectly through instrumentation. A candidate must also possess the functional visual acuity to read both paper and electronic charts, films, slides, videos, records, small print and handwritten notation, distinguish small variations in colors, size and shapes of very small details of tooth shape and contour, intra and extra orally. The candidate must be able to operate handpieces, hand instruments or other instrumentation requiring controlled dental movements generally less than 0.5 millimeters.


General: A candidate must be able to communicate clearly, effectively and sensitively with patients, parents and/or guardians, faculty, staff and classmates; establish good rapport, convey or exchange information at a level allowing development of a health history, identify problems presented, explain alternative solutions and give directions during treatment and post-treatment. For effective patient treatment, the candidate must be able to communicate with patients, parents, guardians and all members of the dental and medical health care team effectively and efficiently. All communication must be culturally appropriate. Communication includes oral and written modes.

Specific: A candidate must have sufficient comprehension and skills in the English language to retrieve information from literature and educational settings, computerized databases, lectures and through patient interaction. A candidate must be able to effectively communicate concepts utilizing the English language on written exams, oral exams, patient charts and professional letters. The candidate must also have sufficient facility with the English language to elicit patient backgrounds, describe patient changes in moods, activity and posture and perceive nonverbal communications in patient care settings. Patients, faculty, candidates and staff must be able to easily understand the candidate’s oral and written communication in order to successfully evaluate performance and to work collaboratively in the care of patients. A candidate must be able to effectively communicate in lay language with patients and their families to help establish patient rapport, to understand information that is requested and needed by the candidate and to understand the explanation of treatment procedures, treatment options, informed consent and follow up or home care. While working alone and with others, a candidate must be able to communicate orally and in writing, including settings where timing is brief, such as emergency situations.

The candidate must be able to interact productively, cooperatively, and in a collegial manner with individuals of differing personalities and backgrounds and be an active contributor to the process of providing health care by demonstrating the ability to engage in teamwork and team building.

In any case, where a candidate’s ability to communicate is compromised, the candidate must demonstrate alternative means and/or ability to acquire and demonstrate the essential information conveyed in this fashion.

The candidate must be punctual and perform work in a timely manner. The candidate must exhibit the maturity, commitment and dedication expected of a health care professional to whom patients entrust their health, safety and well-being.


General: A candidate must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, integrate and synthesize information. A candidate must be able to provide accurate self-assessment for identifying strengths and weaknesses in order to develop appropriate strategies for training and practice. A candidate must be able to accept criticism and respond by appropriate modification of behavior and learning processes.

Specific: A candidate must be able to comprehend and mentally visualize three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures. The problem solving, clinical decision-making and critical thinking skills demanded of a general dentist require all of these intellectual abilities. A candidate must be able to integrate and master all knowledge gained in individual courses to include diagnosing, problem-solving, clinical decision-making and critical thinking skills in simulation of or actual real-time professional dental care for effective treatment of the patient. Candidates must be able to learn effectively through a variety of modalities, including but not limited to: faculty evaluation and assessment of the candidate’s work, classroom instruction, small group discussion, individual study of materials, preparation and presentation of written and oral reports and use of computer-based technology.

Professionalism and Behavioral/Social Skills

General: Candidates must have sufficient behavioral/social skills and professionalism to perform didactic, preclinical techniques, laboratory and clinical procedures at a minimal level of competency, as defined by the college. A candidate must possess the psychological health and maturity required for full utilization of the candidate’s intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, maintenance of patient confidentiality, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients, faculty, staff and other candidates.

Specific: A candidate must recognize that the curriculum is physically, mentally and emotionally taxing. The candidate must be able to effectively manage physically and emotionally demanding workloads, function effectively under stress, adapt to changing environments, display flexibility and learn to function in the face of the uncertainties inherent in clinical patient care. Compassion, empathy, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interests and motivation are all personal qualities that will be assessed during the admission and educational processes. Further, a candidate must be able to manage apprehensive patients with a range of moods and behaviors in a tactful, culturally sensitive, congenial, and personal manner so as not to alienate or antagonize them. A candidate must be able to be self-aware of their performance, display emotional intelligence and accept criticism by responding with appropriate modification of behavior. A candidate must be able to relate with faculty, colleagues, staff and patients with honesty, integrity, respect and nondiscrimination. Candidates must be adaptable, able to cope with stress, able to delegate responsibilities, meet deadlines, manage time and function as part of a dental healthcare team.

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