E-8 ASDA Code of Ethics (2002, revised 2008, 2010, 2020, 2022)

Policy Number: E-8

Policy Category: Dental School Admin Policies and Student Government

The pathway to professional status is obtained through knowledge, skill, and experience with which students serve their patients and society. Every dentist should strive to continuously improve their knowledge of ethics in order to help achieve higher levels of patient care. These foundational ethical values will serve as a guideline throughout the dentist’s career, from predoctoral student to fully credentialed professional.

The American Student Dental Association recognizes the importance of high ethical standards in the dental school setting. Therefore, the Association believes students should conduct themselves in a manner reflecting integrity and fairness in both the didactic and clinical learning environments. The code outlined below relates most directly to the dental school environment. To gain a more expansive understanding of ethics in practice, please see the ADA Code of Ethics.

The following is the ASDA Code of Ethics:

  1. Dental Student conduct
    1. All dental students are obligated to maintain high standards of moral and ethical behavior and to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times. This applies to the classroom, clinic, laboratory and other institutional facilities; externships, community service or meetings of professional organizations.
    2. Ethical and professional behavior by dental students is characterized by honesty, compassion, kindness, integrity, fairness and charity in all professional circumstances; respect for the rights, differences, and property of others; concern for the welfare of patients, competence in the delivery of care, inclusive of various perspectives, backgrounds and capabilities allowing for access to quality care and preservation of confidentiality in all situations where this is warranted.
    3. All dental students are obligated to report unethical activity and violations of the honor code to the appropriate body at the school.
  2. Patient Autonomy ("self-governance"). The student dentist has a duty to respect the patient's rights to self-determination and confidentiality.
    1. Informed Consent and Refusal
      1. Students should conduct a thorough discussion with every patient. This must be repeated whenever there are substantive changes or additions to the treatment plan.
        Discussion should include:
        1. Diagnoses
        2. Treatment Plan
        3. Prognosis
        4. Risks/Benefits
        5. Alternatives
          - The discussion should be in understandable terms and enable a reasonable patient in the patient’s position to make an informed decision regarding care, except in emergencies, when risks are unknown, commonly known or the patient waves the right to disclosure.  
      2. Students should inform the patient of the consequences of not accepting treatment. The patient has a right to an informed refusal which should be honored by the student. 
      3. The student should make sure to allow time to answer any and all questions the patient may have to the best of their ability
    2. Patient Confidentiality
      1. Should follow HIPAA Guidelines. 
  3. Non-maleficence ("do no harm"). The student dentist has a duty to refrain from harming the patient.
    1. Treatment plans should be determined according to patient needs as opposed to unmet requirements of the student.
    2. No procedures should be started without instructor authorization, and all procedures should be evaluated by the instructor upon completion.
    3. Referrals to residents, specialists, or staff members should be made when the complexity of the case exceeds the student’s ability to meet the standard of care. The referring student should inform the patient who will be responsible for dental maintenance and the reason for referral.
    4. Students should exercise discretion in treating family members due to problems associated with medical history disclosure, confidentiality, objectivity, and professionalism.
    5. Students must never perform dental procedures while in an impaired condition, regardless of the source of the impairment.
  4. Beneficence (“do good”). The student dentist has a duty to promote the patient’s welfare.
    1. Students are encouraged to participate in community outreach programs in order to improve the dental health of the public.
    2. Students should advocate access to care for patients who are unable to receive care due to physical or mental disability or financial hardship.
    3. Student dentists will encourage an environment that supports respectful and collaborative relationships for all those involved in oral health care and education.
  5. Justice ('fairness"). The student dentist has a duty to treat people fairly.
    1. Race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin, disability, gender identity, gender expression, socioeconomic status, language or infectious disease status should not influence whether or not a patient is accepted by a student to receive care. Furthermore, all patients should be treated with the same level of compassion, kindness and respect.
    2. Sexual harassment between colleagues, between health care provider and patient, and between students and faculty or residents is unacceptable and must be reported.
    3. Students must report suspected abuse/neglect of patients to an appropriate instructor.
    4. Students should exercise respect when working with human cadavers.
  6. Veracity (“truthfulness”). The student dentist has a duty to communicate truthfully.
    1. The student should not cheat, plagiarize, forge or falsify official records, patient charts, or examinations.
    2. The student should not participate in activities involving theft and/or vandalism of school or student property.
    3. The student will conduct research in an ethical manner and abide by all guidelines set by their institution’s Institutional Review Board.
    4. Students have the responsibility of protecting the integrity of the profession by reporting any suspicions of unethical behavior.
  7. All members of the American Student Dental Association must comply with the ASDA Code of Ethics