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Essential Functions for Matriculation and Continuance in the Clinical Programs of the College

Essential Functions

Admission to the school is open to qualified individuals in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The School of Dentistry recognizes that the award of a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree, Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene degree and graduate specialty certificates or degrees carries with them the full authority of the institution and communicates to those who might seek the services of the bearer that he or she is competent to practice dentistry.  The DDS degree certifies that, upon licensure, the graduate is prepared to practice all disciplines of the dental profession appropriate for a general practitioner.  This requires that the student acquire cognitive and technical skills and attitudes determined by the faculty as requisite for the practice of dentistry. Programs in the dental specialties carry the same privileges as the DDS degree. In the same manner, the Bachelor of Science Dental Hygiene degree confers the privilege of practice in dental hygiene with all of its patient responsibilities.

The School recognizes the unique cognitive, technical and attitudinal aspects of these curricula.  Students must possess the skills and abilities that will allow them to successfully complete the course of study and receive the full benefit of the educational program.  The student is required to direct or perform treatment on the patients of the School as part of the curriculum.  The School has responsibility for ensuring the safety of patients and student clinicians.  This includes the completion of treatment safely and within a reasonable amount of time.  The student must be able to meet or perform the following essential functions with or without accommodation.

Sensory and Observation

Students must be able to observe patients, in clinic or in simulations, in order to gain information to be used in diagnosis.  Students must possess vision, hearing and physical abilities sufficient to obtain a patient history, perform a physical examination and provide patient care.  Additionally, students must have sufficient dexterity to manipulate dental equipment appropriately and to perform in class, clinic and laboratory settings for extended periods of time.


Students must be able to solve problems using the ability to understand and retain knowledge derived from readings, lectures and demonstrations.  Students must be able to use reasoning to analyze and integrate learned material and apply principles to new problems.

Motor Skills

Students ordinarily should have motor function sufficient  to enable them to execute movements required to provide general care for and treatment of patients in routine and emergency situations.  It is required that a student possess the motor skills necessary to directly perform palpation, percussion, auscultation and other diagnostic maneuvers, basic laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures.  Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and functional uses of the senses of touch, vision and smell.  Students must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress.


Students must be able to communicate effectively with patients; 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.  Communication includes speech and writing.  Students must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the health care team.  Students must have sufficient facility with English in order to retrieve information from texts and lectures and communicate concepts on written exams and patient charts; elicit patient backgrounds; describe patient changes in moods, activity and posture; and coordinate patient care with all members of the health care team.  In any case where a student’s ability to communicate through these sensory modalities is compromised, the student must demonstrate acceptable alternative means and/or ability to acquire and demonstrate the essential information conveyed in this fashion.

Behavioral Skills

Students must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, 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. 

Admissions and Continuation in the Curriculum

The School has determined that the functions and skills listed above are essential to the program of instruction. The School will consider for admission any applicant who has:

  1. the ability to perform the functions and skills specified with or without reasonable accommodations, and                       
  2. met the published criteria for admission required for all applicants.

Although the School may not inquire whether an applicant has a disability prior to making a decision on admission, an applicant may disclose during the admissions or interview process a disability for which he or she desires accommodation.  If this occurs, the School may request that the applicant provide documentation of the disability to the Disability Resources. Not withstanding such disclosure, the applicant will be considered based upon the published admissions criteria required of all applicants.

A matriculant or current student who discloses a disability and requests accommodation will be asked to provide documentation of his or her disability for the purpose of determining appropriate accommodations, including modification to the program.  The School may provide reasonable accommodations, but is not required to make modifications that would fundamentally alter the nature of the program, or provide auxiliary aids that present an undue burden to the School. In order to matriculate or continue in the curriculum, a matriculant or current student must be able to perform all of the essential functions with or without accommodation.  An inability to perform the essential functions will lead to a withdrawal of an admission offer or dismissal.  Requests for accommodation by matriculants’ or current students should be initiated with the Department of Disability Resources at the main campus of Texas A&M University:


Disability Resources
Texas A&M University
471 Houston Street; 1224 TAMU
College Station, Texas 77843-1224
Telephone: 979.845.1637