USC University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

Doctoral Dental Competencies

The Ostrow School of Dentistry Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) curriculum focuses on the competencies each graduate should possess upon completion of the program. The competencies—like the curriculum and featured cases—continuously evolve to ensure students receive the most up-to-date, learner-centered education possible. The following 25 competencies apply to the pediatric, adolescent, adult, geriatric, and medically complex patient.

General Professional Competency

1. Provide empathic care for all individuals, including those from diverse, disadvantaged, and “at risk” populations in a variety of practice settings.
2. Apply ethical, legal and regulatory policies and principles to the provision and/or support of oral health care services.
3. Apply principles of self-assessment, critical-thinking, and problem solving, and seek information to enhance professional competency.
4. Develop skills to access, critically appraise, apply and communicate scientific literature as it relates to providing evidence-based patient care.

Practice Management

5. Understand the differences between various models of oral health care delivery and financing.
6. Understand the principles, regulations, and procedures necessary to manage and lead a contemporary dental practice.

Patient Care — Comprehensive Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment Planning

7. Perform comprehensive diagnostic evaluations and risk assessments based upon the application of scientific evidence with consultations as appropriate.
8. Assess patient goals, values and concerns to establish rapport, guide patient care, maintain oral health and monitor therapeutic outcomes.
9. Formulate multidisciplinary, comprehensive, sequenced treatment plans based on diagnosis, prognosis, and patient expectations, including discussion of risks, benefits and viable alternative treatment recommendations.
10. Recognize the normal range of clinical findings and significant deviations that indicate oral pathology and that require monitoring, treatment or management.
11. Recognize oral manifestations of systemic disorders, and systemic complications of oral disease, and seek consultations as needed.

Patient Care — Comprehensive Treatment

12. Provide patient education and preventive strategies to maximize his/her oral health and well-being.
13. Assess, diagnose and manage dental caries.
14. Assess, diagnose and manage periodontal disease.
15. Manage procedures that preserve and restore tooth structure to optimal form, function and esthetics.
16. Restore edentulous spaces to optimal form, function and esthetics.
17. Assess, diagnose and manage pulpal and periradicular disease.
18. Assess, diagnose and manage conditions requiring surgical intervention.
19. Assess, diagnose and manage chronic orofacial pain and dysfunction including temporomandibular joint disorders.
20. Assess, diagnose and manage occlusal and oral spatial abnormalities.

Patient Care — Medical and Dental Emergencies, Pain and/or Anxiety Control

21. Anticipate, detect and manage medical emergencies that may occur in the dental setting.
22. Assess, diagnose and manage pain, hemorrhage, trauma and infection of the orofacial complex.
23. Select and administer or prescribe appropriate pharmacological agents used in the treatment of dental patients while being cognizant of and managing the potential for patient drug abuse.
24. Manage patients with pain and/or anxiety using appropriate non-pharmacological methods.

Patient Care — Communication

25. Communicate and collaborate with dental team members and other health care professionals in the management of and health promotion for all patients.