University of Pikeville

College of Dental Medicine
147 Sycamore Street
Pikeville, Kentucky 41501
(606) 218-5251


Functional Standards

The following functional standards for predoctoral students at the University of Pikeville College of Dental Medicine are provided to assist candidates and current students regarding the abilities necessary to provide quality comprehensive oral healthcare services to the public.  This publication complies with Standard 4-10 established by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. 

The functional standards represent a set of guidelines in the following areas:  

  1. Observation; 
  2. Communication; 
  3. Sensory and motor coordination; 
  4. Intellectual – conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities; and 
  5. Behavioral and social attributes. 

The University of Pikeville College of Dental Medicine incorporates these guidelines along with other established criteria, as standards for graduation from the four-year professional program.  In any case, where a student’s abilities in one of these areas are compromised, he or she must demonstrate alternative means and/or abilities to meet the functional requirements. It is expected that seeking and using such alternative means and/or abilities shall be the responsibility of the student. Upon receipt of the appropriate documentation, the school or college will be expected to provide reasonable assistance and accommodation to the student.

Certain chronic or recurrent illnesses, including infectious, psychiatric, or substance abuse problems that interfere with patient care or safety are not compatible with dental practice or training.  Other illnesses, such as immune disorders, may lead to a high likelihood of student illness and should be carefully considered. Candidates with questions or concerns about how their own conditions or disabilities might affect their ability to meet these functional standards are encouraged to meet with a dental school counselor prior to submitting an application.

Observation Abilities

The student must be able to acquire a defined level of required knowledge as presented through lectures, laboratories, demonstrations, and patient interaction in a clinical setting. Acquiring this body of information necessitates the functional use of visual, auditory, and somatic sensations enhanced by the functional use of other sensory modalities. Examples of these observational skills in which accurate information needs to be extracted in an efficient manner include:

Visual Abilities 

  • Visualizing and reading information from papers, films, slides, video, and computer displays
  • Observing dental, anatomic, physiologic, and pharmacologic demonstrations and experiments
  • Discriminating microscopic images of tissue and microorganism
  • Observing a patient and noting non-verbal signs
  • Discriminating numbers, images, and patterns associated with diagnostic tests and instruments
  • Visualizing specific hard and soft intraoral and extraoral tissues in order to discern three-dimensional relationships, depth, and color changes

Auditory Abilities

  • Understanding verbal presentations in lecture, laboratory, and patient settings
  • Recognizing and interpreting various sounds associated with laboratory experiments as well as diagnostic and therapeutic procedures

Tactile Abilities

  • Palpating the intraoral and extraoral tissues and related areas to determine the integrity of the underlying structures
  • Palpating and feeling certain cardiovascular pulses

Communication Abilities

The student must be able to communicate effectively, efficiently, and sensitively with patients and their families, peers, staff, instructors, and other members of the healthcare team. The student must be able to demonstrate established communication skills using traditional and alternative means. Examples of required communications skills include:

  • Relating effectively and sensitively to patients, conveying compassion and empathy
  • Perceiving verbal and non-verbal communication such as sadness, worry, agitation, and lack of comprehension from patients
  • Eliciting information from patients and observing changes in mood and activity
  • Communicating quickly, effectively, and efficiently in oral and written English with patients and other members of the healthcare team
  • Reading and legibly recording observations, test results, and treatment records accurately
  • Completing assignments, patient records, and correspondence accurately and in a timely manner

Sensory and Motor Coordination Abilities

Students must possess the sensory and motor skills necessary to perform all general dental services required for graduation from the University of Pikeville College of Dental Medicine including emergency dental care. In general, this requires sufficient exteroception sense (touch, pain, temperature), proprioceptive sense (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis, and vibratory), and fine motor function (significant coordination and manual dexterity using arms, wrists, hands, and fingers). Some examples of skills required include, but are not limited to:

  • Elicit information from a patient to obtain an accurate medical history
  • Assess the blood pressure and pulse of a patient
  • Conduct a dental examination utilizing a variety of dental instruments
  • Inspect the patient’s oral cavity visually to perceive changes in soft tissue color and consistency
  • Administer local anesthesia utilizing a needle and syringe as part of a pain management protocol
  • Perform the removal of decayed tooth structure with various instrumentation including manual, rotary, and laser.
  • Assist patients from a wheelchair to the dental operatory chair
  • Manage emergency medical situations in the dental setting including the performance of CPR

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities

Problem-solving, a most critical skill, is essential for dental students and must be performed quickly, especially in emergency situations.  In order to be an effective problem solver, the student must be able to accurately and efficiently utilize such abilities as assessment, judgment, investigation, memory, and comprehensive assimilation. Examples of these abilities include being able to:

  • Determine appropriate questions to be asked and clinical tests to be performed
  • Identify and analyze significant findings from history, examination, and other test data
  • Demonstrate good judgment and provide a reasonable assessment, diagnosis, and management of patients
  • Retain, recall, and obtain information in an efficient manner
  • Identify and communicate an appropriate referral to another healthcare provider when indicated

Behavioral and social attributes

The student must possess the necessary behavioral and social attributes for the study and practice of dentistry. Examples of such attributes include:

  • Satisfactory emotional health required for full utilization of one’s intellectual ability
  • High ethical standards and integrity
  • An empathy with patients and concern for their welfare
  • Commitment to the dental profession and its standards
  • Effective interpersonal relationships with patients, peers, and instructors
  • Satisfactory professional demeanor
  • Effective functioning under varying degrees of stress and workload
  • Adaptability to changing environments and uncertainties
  • Positive acceptance of suggestions and constructive criticism

Other Important Considerations:

Students are encouraged to be immunized against infectious diseases, such as mumps, measles, rubella, hepatitis B, influenza, and COVID-19 prior to contact with patients and/or infectious objects or materials, in an effort to minimize the risk of infection to patients, dental personnel, and themselves. Annual documentation regarding TB status is required following matriculation.  

Students and faculty providing clinical care must maintain continuous certification in basic life support (B.L.S.) throughout matriculation or employment at the University of Pikeville College of Dental Medicine, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and be able to manage common medical emergencies.