The South Carolina Section of The American College of Dentists (ACD) led a seminar on dental ethics at the Medical University of South Carolina James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine. We spoke to and interacted with 70 members of the Class of 2022.
What a great group of young people we had to work with at MUSC! As is usually the case, the dentists enjoyed the event and perhaps benefited more than the students.
Front Row-Drs. Heather Barker, Teddy Martin, Benetta Bell, David Watson, Thomas Edmonds–Back Row-Drs. Craig Draffin, David Moss, Daniel Hall, Terry Kunkle, Dale Finkbine, Bill Cranford
I have had a long time interest in dental ethics and in encouraging younger dentists. Understandably, I enjoyed joining dental colleagues in advising senior dental students at Dental Ethics Day at MUSC.Dr. Bill Cranford
The American College of Dentists serves to promote ethics and professionalism in dentistry. In South Carolina, members work with future dentists to enhance the quality of dental care and the profession’s service to society.
Our goal: To help future dentists make wise decisions based on principles of ethics.
Ethical Decisions in Daily Dental Practice
The seniors at MUSC will graduate on May 21, 2022. Then many will begin treating patients in private practice or residencies.
Daily, and even hourly, they will make decisions that require them to think ethically. For example, what is the best treatment for this patient at this time? And is this the best option?
Our group of experienced dentists shared examples of situations the new dentists should expect to face. Next we led them through the process of doing the right and fair thing in dealing with patients under their care.
ACD Three Steps in Making Ethical Decisions
We gave each student an Ethics Handbook and the ACD Test for Ethical Decisions by the American College of Dentists. During our presentation, we explained how to apply the test to the many decisions they will make in patient care.
Obviously, ethics affect nearly every decision made in a dental office. Thus, understanding the ethical code leads to fair and proper treatment of patients, staff, and the public.
Here are the steps dentists should take before beginning treatment:
Ask these questions about the treatment you recommend:
Is it—–True? Accurate? Fair? Quality? Legal?
Take time to make sure the patients fully understands the treatment they need.
Have you—–Listened? Informed the patient? Explained outcomes? Presented alternatives?
Is this the right treatment for this patient at this time?
Is now the best time? Within your ability? In the the patient’s best interest? And is this treatment what you would want for yourself?
After carefully considering all of these important issues, you are ready to begin the technical part of treating the patient’s teeth and gums.
Ethical Exercises for Dental Students
To engage the students, we presented ethical problems for them to work through. To begin, Dr. David Moss showed videos of possible situations these future dentists would face in their offices.
After that, we divided the students into nine small groups to discuss the correct response to the ethical dilemma in each video.
Next facilitators (who were dentists and ACD members) led the groups through the decision making process.
Finally, we discussed problems that young dentists may deal with as they enter the professional workplace. And we answered questions about serving the public through dentistry.
Service to Community and Profession
Dr. David Watson spoke (on behalf of the American Dental Association) about the importance of continuing education and service.
He shared the benefits of giving back based on his personal experience. And he stressed the importance of constantly learning and engaging with other dental professionals.
Therefore, he asked the students to join the ADA and other organizations that would support their professional growth. In addition, he encouraged community involvement and helping others.
ADA Code of Ethics
In conclusion, Dr. Bill Cranford presented the American Dental Association’s Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct. Dr. Cranford serves on the ADA Council on Ethics Bylaws and Judicial Affairs.
The ADA Code is made up of five well grounded ethical principles:
Respect the individual and his right of choice.
Do no harm and protect the patient from harm.
Promote the patient’s welfare while considering the needs, desires, and values of the patient.
Treat all patients fairly and without prejudice.
Be honest and trustworthy, and communicate clearly and honestly with people.
I have been interested in dental ethics since I was a student at MUSC. My senior paper was on this topic. Therefore, it was good to see so much interest from this group of students on doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason. Understanding ethics will help make them successful dentists.Dr. Bill Cranford
Future Dentists from The Medical University of South Carolina
Our American College group was made up of dentists of various ages from all over South Carolina. We were all impressed with MUSC’s commitment to teaching the principles of ethics to these students.
Dr. Sarandeep Huja, Dean of the MUSC School of Dentistry and Dr. Tariq Javed, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, welcomed and introduced our committee. Prior to that, they cleared the schedules of the students and asked them to join our discussion.
Clearly, the professors had trained the students in understanding the dental code of ethics. Thus the students were ready to discuss and ask questions.
Most important of all, the students were engaged and interested in learning from us. Moreover, they understood the importance of doing the right thing for their patients.
In summary, the students are ready to graduate and meet their new patients competently, confidently, and ethically.
From the South Carolina Section of the American College of Dentists, we wish these outstanding students well as they join our profession. And we look forward to working with you in maintaining ethical and professional standards in dentistry.