Technical Standards

All individuals, including persons with disabilities, who wish to participate in the dental assistant program, must be able to perform specific technical functions with or without reasonable accommodation.

The following information outlines the requirements, abilities, and behavioral characteristics necessary for admission, continued participation, and completion of the dental assistant program at Harford Community College (HCC). Students should consult with the non-credit allied health coordinator to discuss any individual situation that may prevent his or her ability to meet the admission criteria or the essential technical standards. Requests for reasonable accommodations will be considered. It is ultimately the student’s responsibility to meet these essential qualifications for participation in the program.

In order to meet the requirements for admission, perform the skills/duties of a dental assistant, and assume the responsibilities of a direct care provider the student must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Possess a minimum of a high school diploma or a GED.
  • Review the program technical standards and ask questions if unfamiliar with the required activities or functions.
  • Decide if he or she has any limitations that may restrict or interfere with the satisfactory performance of any of the requirements.
  • Indicate willingness to practice direct care skills in a laboratory setting by role-playing both the dental assistant and the client.
  • Recognize the potential for exposure to bloodborne pathogens, ionizing radiation, and potentially hazardous materials.

Any individual who is unable or unwilling to meet the following technical standards in the classroom, lab, and clinical area will be unable to participate in the program.

  • Visual—Able to observe, monitor, and/or assess client, and read fine print on monitors, devices, and gauges.
    1. Read written instructions.
    2. Acquire information from documents such as charts, radiographs, computer images, and other modes of delivery.
    3. Perceive fine detail, focus at several distances, and discern variations in color, shape, and texture in order to differentiate abnormal from normal.
    4. See and discriminate between varieties of visual equipment alarms.
    5. Observe demonstrations and clients close up and at a distance to learn skills and gather client data such as, but not limited to, observing a client’s facial expressions, appearance, and other nonverbal cues.
  • Hearing—Able to hear and understand faculty, staff, peers, clients, families, and healthcare workers; interpret conversations; and assess/monitor clients.
    1. Communicate and interact with faculty, staff, peers, clients, families, and healthcare workers from a variety of cultural backgrounds.
    2. Follow verbal instructions.
    3. Detect and discriminate between sounds of normal conversation.
    4. Hear sounds of a variety of equipment alarms.
  • Smell—Able to tolerate unpleasant odors related to infections, bad breath, etc.
  • Mobility—Possess the mobility and strength to move freely in the office and support/move clients.
    1. Move quickly from place to place and perform direct care.
    2. Assist and/or transfer clients safely into a dental chair.
    3. Modify client’s position in a dental chair.
    4. Stand/sit for extended periods and walk long distances.
    5. Reach above shoulder height to manipulate equipment.
    6. Reach below waist level to manipulate equipment.
  • Motor Skills (fine and gross)—Perform multiple motor tasks simultaneously. Possess fine and gross motor skills sufficient to handle equipment and provide safe and effective client care; keen sense of touch; awareness of self in relationship to surroundings, steady arm and hand movements while manipulating objects or assisting the dentist and/or clients.
    1. Perform CPR and other basic life support functions.
    2. Operate and manipulate equipment and instruments.
    3. Operate both foot and hand controls simultaneously.
    4. Position/move clients safely.
    5. Push/pull equipment.
    6. Work in confined spaces while maintaining close, personal contact with others.
    7. Chart/write in dental records and record client data.
  • Tactile–Possess a keen sense of touch and the ability to interpret tactile sensations to perceive information such as, but not limited to texture, mobility, firmness, strength, and temperature.
    1. Identify loose teeth, appliances, etc. by palpation.
    2. Detect changes in skin/tissue temperature and integrity.
  • Communication—Able to communicate in English, both orally and in writing, with faculty, staff, peers, clients, families, and healthcare workers.
    1. Speak English in a clear and easily understood manner.
    2. Write in a manner that is legible.
    3. Use correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
    4. Read and comprehend written material in English at a minimum of the 9th grade level.
    5. Observe non-verbal communication.
  • Intellectual and Cognitive Abilities—Able to learn, measure, calculate, reason, analyze, integrate, synthesize, and use data/information.
    1. Interpret, problem solve, and demonstrate critical thinking.
    2. Comprehend three-dimensional and spatial relationships.
    3. Respond to emergencies by processing information consistently, accurately, and quickly.
    4. Possess the ability to self-evaluate.  
  • Behavioral and Social Attributes—Possess the emotional health required to use intellectual abilities fully such as exercising good judgment, promptly completing all responsibilities associated with client care, and developing mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with faculty, staff, peers, clients, families, and healthcare workers.
    1. Tolerate physically taxing workloads and function effectively under stress.
    2. Maintain composure while continuing to function appropriately and professionally in myriad situations.
    3. Adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many clients.
    4. Demonstrate team playing, compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation during the education process.
    5. Recognize emergencies and be able to take the appropriate action.
    6. Accept constructive criticism and respond appropriately by modifying behavior.
  • Ethical Standards—Demonstrate professional demeanor and behavior. Perform in an ethical manner in all dealings with faculty, staff, peers, clients, families, and healthcare workers regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, or any other status protected by law.
  • Legal Standards—Submit to a criminal background check and/or drug testing as required by policies of the college, clinical facility, and/or regulatory agency. The student is responsible for any cost.

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