Center for Dental Informatics: Curriculum

Competencies for Dental Informatics V 1.0

The "Competencies for Dental Informatics" have been developed through input from an international group of dental informatics experts, faculty involved in teaching computer courses, and private practitioners. These competencies are a first draft and are expected to evolve significantly over time. Please send comments to


A graduate of a predoctoral dental program must be able to:


  1. Use computer operating systems and application software to perform common computing tasks.
  2. Foundation knowledge and skills:

    • Create, store, retrieve, and print information using common computer applications, such as word-processing and spreadsheet programs.
    • Manage information on the computer in a systematic, hierarchically organized collection of units, such as files and folders.
    • Backup information to prevent data loss.
    • Access and use the World Wide Web.
  3. Perform basic installation and maintenance of computer components and software.
  4. Foundation knowledge and skills:

    • Identify and explain functions of components and underlying concepts of computer systems.
    • Install applications and accessory programs.
    • Identify and solve the most common basic computer problems.
    • Perform basic expansion and maintenance functions, such as adding expansion cards or RAM, and/or use appropriate third-party resources (such as technical support, consultants, etc.) for this purpose.
    • Use appropriate third-party resources (such as technical support, consultants, etc.) to solve complex problems and/or implement advanced systems.
  5. Evaluate, select, purchase, and implement computer systems and software for specified purposes in dental practice.
  6. Foundation knowledge and skills:

    • Identify the need for various computer systems and applications in the dental office.
    • Plan and pursue a systematic strategy to research and select appropriate hardware and/or software that meets identified needs.
    • Identify characteristics of purchase agreements that provide for adequate implementation, support, and maintenance of the system, and that minimize risk (e.g. loss of assets, loss of function) for the practitioner.
    • Plan and execute an appropriate implementation strategy (in cooperation with third parties if necessary).
    • Demonstrate knowledge of software licensing issues.


  7. Use computer systems for practice management.
  8. Foundation knowledge and skills:

    • Use dental practice management software to manage patient information, practice finances, and accounting processes.
    • Use dental practice management software to manage patient appointments.
  9. Use computer systems for patient care.
  10. Foundation knowledge and skills:

    • Use clinical computer systems to acquire, store, and manage diagnostic and therapeutic information.
    • Use clinical computer systems to guide, monitor, and support the patient care process (e.g. progression of patient through diagnosis and treatment to maintenance phase, referrals to specialists).
    • Use clinical devices, such as sensors, probes, or milling devices to support diagnosis and treatment.
    • Use clinical computer systems to monitor oral health outcomes of individuals, patient groups, or practice populations.
    • Use computer systems to solve clinical problems collaboratively with other healthcare providers through telemedical and teledental computer applications.
  11. Follow legal and ethical standards with regard to confidentiality, data security, and risk management of patient-related, computer-stored information.
  12. Foundation knowledge and skills:

    • Know legal standards pertaining to computer-stored patient information in the state(s) where graduate plans to practice.
    • Maintain strict security standards in storing and transmitting patient-related information.
    • Disclose patient-related information to third parties only to the degree necessary to accomplish a given task in compliance with legal and ethical standards.
    • Maintain adequate measures to minimize the risk of loss of patient-related information.


  13. Use computer systems to support clinical decision-making and professional development.
  14. Foundation knowledge and skills:

    • Select and use resources available through computers, such as network-based resources (e.g. online textbooks, reference resources), decision support applications, and discussion lists/newsgroups to solve clinical problems or to support professional development.
    • Know the limitations of computer-based information resources and use other resources when necessary.
    • Filter, evaluate, analyze, synthesize and/or reconcile information obtained from these sources.
    • Demonstrate knowledge of copyright and intellectual property issues regarding materials retrieved electronically.


  15. Use computer systems to communicate with peers, other professionals, staff, patients or guardians, and the public at large.
  16. Foundation knowledge and skills:

    • Follow established guidelines regarding electronic communication with patients, guardians, and the public at large, such as e-mail etiquette and confidentiality.
    • Use Web publishing tools to create hypertext documents and/or use appropriate third-party services (such as Web design companies) to communicate information through the World Wide Web (e.g. patient education).
    • Use instructional technologies and resources, such as available via the Internet, CD-ROM, DVD, video conferencing and other media for educational purposes.

References (selected):

  1. McCann AL, Babler WJ, Cohen PA. Lessons learned from the competency-based curriculum initiative at Baylor College of Dentistry. J. Dent. Educ 1998; 62(2):197-207
  2. Glassman P, Chambers DW. Developing competency systems: a never ending story. J. Dent. Educ 1998; 62(2): 173-182
  3. Chambers DW, Glassman P. A primer on competency-based evaluation. J. Dent. Educ 1997; 61(8):651-666
  4. Chambers DW, Gerrow JD. Manual for developing and formatting competency statements. J. Dent. Educ 1994;58(5):361-366
  5. Chambers DW. Toward a competency-based curriculum. J. Dent. Educ 1993; 57(11):790-793
  6. American Association of Medical Colleges. Medical school objectives project. [Online]. Avaliable:; 1998.
  7. Hilgers RD, Feldmann U, Jöckel KH, Klar R, Rienhoff O, Schäfer H, Selbmann HK, Wichmann HE: Empfehlungen zur Umsetzung der Approbationsordnung für Ärzte vom 27.06.2002 in den Fächern Epidemiologie, Medizinische Biometrie und Medizinische Informatik. GMS Med Inform Biom Epidemiol 2005;1(1):Doc05. [Online]. Avaliable:; 2005.