Should live patient licensing examinations in dentistry be discontinued? Two viewpoints

Tien Min Gabriel Chu, Nicholas M. Makhoul, Daniela Rodrigues Silva, Theresa S. Gonzales, Ariadne Letra, Keith A. Mays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This Point/Counterpoint article addresses a long-standing but still-unresolved debate on the advantages and disadvantages of using live patients in dental licensure exams. Two contrasting viewpoints are presented. Viewpoint 1 supports the traditional use of live patients, arguing that other assessment models have not yet been demonstrated to be viable alternatives to the actual treatment of patients in the clinical licensure process. This viewpoint also contends that the use of live patients and inherent variances in live patient treatment represent the realities of daily private practice. Viewpoint 2 argues that the use of live patients in licensure exams needs to be discontinued considering those exams' ethical dilemmas of exposing patients to potential harm, as well as their lack of reliability and validity and limited scope. According to this viewpoint, the current presence of viable alternatives means that the risk of harm inherent in live patient exams can finally be eliminated and those exams replaced with other means to confirm that candidates are qualified for licensure to practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-251
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Assessment
  • Clinical examination
  • Clinical licensure
  • Dental education
  • Live patient examination

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