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Licensure Glossary

Accreditation: Process by which an entity grants public recognition to an organization such as a school, institute, college, program, facility or company that has met predetermined standards.

Accredited program: In the United States, this refers to dental education programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Through a reciprocal agreement between CODA and the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC), accredited program also refers to dental education programs in Canada accredited by the CDAC.

Certification: Voluntary process by which an organization grants recognition to an individual who has met certain predetermined qualifications or standards.

Credentialing: The process of granting a credential that is a designation which indicates competence in a subject area.

Initial Licensure: The first time a candidate applies for and receives a dental license. The candidate does not hold a dental license in another jurisdiction at the time of application.

International: In the context of dental education and licensure, refers to dental education programs and graduates of programs outside of the United States and Canada.

Licensure: The process by which states grant individuals the authority to practice a particular profession or occupation. Licensure is a mandatory governmental requirement that implies both practice protection and title protection, in that only those individuals who hold a license are permitted to practice and to use a particular title. Licensure normally involves some form of assessment or examination in addition to successful completion of an educational program.

Licensure by Credentials or Licensure Recognition: The state process in which the state dental board, per its rules and regulations as authorized by law, grants licenses to dentists to practice in any setting, who are currently licensed and in active, continuous practice for a specified period of time in another jurisdiction, without further theoretical and clinical examination. In granting licensure by credentials, the board of dentistry makes a determination that the applicant is currently licensed in a state that has equivalent licensure standards. Licensure recognition or licensure by credentials, is rarely, but may also be, referred to as licensure by reciprocity, endorsement, or criteria.

Clinical Testing Agencies: Independent testing agencies contract with individual state boards of dentistry to administer the clinical examinations required for licensure in those states. These testing agencies do not have the authority to license individuals or to implement policy that goes beyond the laws of its member states. Regional testing agencies are clinical testing agencies composed of groups of participating or member states who may participate in the agency's testing process and/or accept the agency's examination results and should not be confused with state boards of dentistry.

Regulation: A rule or order issued by an executive authority or regulatory agency of a government (e.g. dental board) and having force of law.

State Boards of Dentistry: The state board of dentistry (also known as board of dental examiners) is an agency of state government created by the state legislature. This agency governs the qualifications for and the practice of dentistry within the state. The board's authority is limited to that granted by the state legislature and typically includes 1) establishment of qualifications for licensure, 2) issuance of licenses to qualified individuals, 3) establishment of standards of practice and conduct, 4) taking disciplinary action against those who engage in misconduct, and 5) promulgation of rules to enable the board to perform its duties. State boards are composed of members of the profession and the public.

Statute: A law enacted by the legislative branch of a government (i.e. state legislature). The dental practice act is an example of a statute.