Penn Dental Medicine (PDM) strongly supports a diverse student body, working to provide a respectful environment for all students to succeed. The University of Pennsylvania does not discriminate on the basis of disability status or need for accommodation and has developed guidelines for addressing academic issues of students with disabilities. Penn Dental Medicine adheres to the University’s non- discrimination policy and follows the “Guidelines for Addressing Academic Issues of Students with Disabilities” adopted by the faculty and implemented by the Office of Affirmative Action.

Any candidate with a disability or candidate who develops a disability, may request provision of reasonable accommodations to meet these technical standards. All accommodation requests need to be addressed to and approved by Disability Services at the University of Pennsylvania Weingarten Center. The Weingarten Center has the sole responsibility for granting or denying such accommodations. Candidates requesting reasonable accommodations must follow the process and procedures found on their website: Accommodation granted for didactic settings may not be applicable to clinical situations or clinical simulations. In no instance can an accommodation granted in the clinical environment extend the time required for a patient treatment.

The faculty of Penn Dental Medicine has assumed the responsibility to educate pre-doctoral, advanced dental education, Master and Doctor of Science in Dentistry students. The foundation of knowledge in the Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences is delivered in a series of lectures, seminars, and laboratory activities. In this “didactic” portion of the curriculum, all students must possess the abilities and skills to observe, understand, integrate, and communicate material presented in various formats, including but not limited to: lectures, laboratories, patient interviews and pre-recorded presentations, computer programs and simulations, and small group discussions. The Clinical Sciences are presented in lectures, seminars, preclinical laboratory activities, and in patient care. All laboratory exercises are rigorous and it is necessary to possess certain abilities and skills which include (but are not limited to) sensory, motor, emotional, and intellectual abilities and skills, which are essential to performing in these courses in a competent manner.

During the intensive clinical experience, aspects of biomedical science as well as humanism and professionalism are integrated into the curriculum. The students become familiar with the methods and skill to practice clinical dentistry under direct faculty supervision. Clinical experiences are provided in multiple outpatient ambulatory settings. The clinical experience is a demanding one in which students are required to develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients and colleagues. This experience may require a candidate to be able to tolerate physical and emotional stress and continue to function effectively. Patient care frequently requires long periods of continuous physical activity, frequently without rest, and may require rapid movement between different patient sites and between different buildings. The ability to travel to extramural sites within Philadelphia may be necessary. A candidate will need to possess qualities of adaptability, flexibility and resilience as well as functioning at a high level in the face of uncertainty. It is expected that the individual will demonstrate a high level of compassion for others, a motivation to serve, integrity and a consciousness of social values. A candidate must possess effective communicative and interpersonal skills to interact positively with people from all levels of society, all ethnic backgrounds, and all belief systems. It is a synthesis of all of the above qualities that we believe is necessary for a candidate to independently demonstrate the behavioral and social attributes noted below and to appropriately diagnose patients and provide dental care.

All candidates must possess the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze, and synthesize data. They must have the functional use of the senses of vision and equilibrium utilizing appropriate accommodations. Their exteroceptive (touch, pain, and temperature) and proprioceptive (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis, and vibratory) senses must be sufficiently intact to enable them to carry out all activities required for a complete education. Candidates must have motor function capabilities to meet the demands of dental education and the demands of total patient care as well as preclinical laboratory activities. Examples include but are not limited to the following:

  • Observation — the ability to observe is required for demonstration, visual presentations, lectures, and laboratories, both at a distance and closely. This ability requires functional vision and somatic sensation and is enhanced by a sense of smell. The candidate should also be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and the spatial relationships of structures.
  • Communication — a candidate should be able to communicate with and observe patients in order to elicit information, perceive non-verbal communication, and describe changes in mood, activity, and posture. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. All communication with the health care team and with faculty and/or staff in non-clinical environments must also be effective, efficient and professional.
  • Motor — the candidate should have sufficient motor function to perform inspection, palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. Candidates should be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide dental care and emergency treatment to patients. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movement, equilibrium, and functional uses of senses of touch, and vision.
  • Intellectual — conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities in problem solving are critical skills. The candidate should be able to integrate and assimilate large volumes of information from multiple sources and multiple educational experiences in a time period appropriate for the situation, and be able to apply that to problem-solving and decision making.
  • Behavioral and Social Attributes — the candidate must be able to use their intellectual ability, exercise good judgment, and complete all responsibilities attendant to making the appropriate diagnosis and professionally caring for patients. The candidate must interact with all members of the healthcare team, faculty and staff, patients and families in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner, regardless of gender, age, race, sexual orientation, religion, or any other protected status. The candidate must possess the emotional and mental health required to fully utilize their intellectual abilities, to exercise good judgment, to complete their responsibilities promptly, and to relate to others with courtesy, compassion, maturity, and respect. The candidate must display emotional health and flexibility in spite of stressful work, physically taxing workloads, and changing environments. The candidate must fulfill applicable class and clinical attendance requirements as well as meet applicable deadlines for completion of didactic, laboratory and clinical responsibilities.

The privilege of practicing the art and science of dentistry within Penn Dental Medicine care centers may be withdrawn for a personal or medical condition that impairs physical or mental capacity. Any student with a physical injury or medical condition may be denied clinical privileges if in the view of Office of Clinical Affairs and/or faculty, the student’s condition would adversely affect the patient’s treatment and wellbeing and/or the wellbeing of the involved student and/or other students, faculty and staff present on the clinic floor. Similar limitations may apply in the laboratory and classroom environments. Failure to comply with PDM and/or University immunization policies or with completion of personal medical testing and other mandated compliance documentation as required, may result in loss of entry access into PDM, loss of clinical privileges and/or possible dismissal from PDM.

For students who have matriculated into Penn Dental Medicine, issues related to these standards are dealt with on an individual basis by course directors on the Clinical Review Board in consultation with Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs and Associate Dean for Student Affairs, along with respective department Chairs and/or Division and Program Directors as needed. Responsibility for these technical and health standards is placed on the Committee on Admissions for prospective candidates.

Questions regarding this policy can be addressed to the Office of Academic Affairs,

Excerpt from Penn Dental Medicine Candidate 2021-2022 Student Handbook pp. 62-64