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Essential Skills

To be successful, dentists and dental hygienists must demonstrate cognitive skills in critical and logical/analytical thinking. Dentists and dental hygienists must possess and demonstrate psychomotor skills (fine motor dexterity and coordination) and observational skills (vision, hearing and tactile abilities) sufficient to master the clinical procedures essential in the treatment of dental disease.

All individuals who apply for admission to The University of Texas School of Dentistry, without exception, must be able to perform essential functions. Essential functions are the basic activities that a student must be able to perform to complete the curriculum. An applicant who cannot perform the following essential functions -- either with or without reasonable accommodations -- will not be considered for admission:


Students must be able to communicate effectively with peers, staff, faculty, patients and patient family members, and other members of the health care team. Communication requires the ability to assess all information provided by the patient including non-verbal responses, within safety-related timeframes. Students must be able to communicate in oral and written format that is succinct, organized and complete. These communications will include assessments, prescriptions and dental record notes. Students must be able to demonstrate sensitivity to cultural, emotional and societal issues.

Sensory and Psychomotor Skills

Students must be able to gather patient information needed for a diagnosis through adequate visual, tactile, olfactory and auditory senses. Students must have sufficient physical abilities and stamina to provide dental care and respond to emergency situations. Students must have the manual dexterity to execute the gross and fine motor movements required to provide dental care for their patients.

Cognitive Abilities

Students must have the cognitive abilities to master the dental curriculum, including the basic, behavioral and clinical sciences. Students must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, synthesize, integrate and apply information. In addition, students must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships required to provide dental care. Students must be able to demonstrate critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making skills required in the practice of dentistry.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Students must be able to demonstrate professional behavior and function with integrity and responsibility while maintaining a high ethical standard. In addition, the students must be able to demonstrate the ability to be compassionate, empathic and tolerant. Students must be able to interact in a collegial manner and demonstrate the ability to participate in teamwork. Students must possess the emotional health required to use their intellectual abilities fully, such as exercising good judgment, promptly completing all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and developing mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients. Students must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. Students must be able to adapt to changing environments, respond appropriately to unpredictable circumstances, and to display flexibility.

Chronic Conditions

Students must not possess any chronic or recurrent illnesses such as infectious, psychiatric or substance abuse problems that would interfere with quality patient care or safety and that are not compatible with dental practice or training.