Among the most important learning that occurs in our nation's colleges of dentistry is learning to be a professional. While knowledge, perceptual-motor skills, and problem-solving abilities are basic to becoming a dentist, helping aspiring colleagues to apply their newly developing skills with integrity must be a fundamental concern. Increasingly, we are realizing that the quality of health care depends as significantly on the character of the health professional as it does on the individual's knowledge and skills. Concern for character, virtue, and integrity is the domain of ethics. This paper advances a justification for including a curriculum in professional ethics in our dental educational programs. The professional ethics curriculum at the University of Kentucky, "The Profession of Dentistry," extends through all four years of the Doctor of Dental Medicine program. The paper describes the major goals pursued in the curriculum and outlines the content of each of the four, sixteen-clock-hour courses. Learning ethics experientially through living in a college community is reviewed in the context of the College of Dentistry's comprehensive Code of Professional Conduct and Academic Responsibility. An assumption of the curriculum is, if the professional relationship of dentistry with society is to be sustained, each new generation of dentists must understand the nature of the profession and the ethical obligations of becoming a member of the dental profession.

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1996

Notes/Citation Information

Published in The Journal of the American College of Dentists, v. 63, no. 1, p. 25-29.

The American College of Dentists has granted the permission for posting the article here.