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Physical Standards

AAMC LCME Standards

The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) has recommended that all medical schools develop technical standards to assist them in determining whether applicants for admission to the School of Medicine or candidates seeking the degree of Doctor of Medicine are qualified to pursue a career in medicine. This document, “Qualifications for Doctor of Medicine Degree  Candidate” (Qualifications) contains the technical standards of the School of Medicine. The technical standards are based on guidelines produced by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). This document is also published in the Student Handbook distributed to all matriculating candidates. All applicants who reach the interview stage will be required to read the Qualifications and to sign a copy of the attached form to indicate that they understand the Qualifications. The signed form is kept as part of the record for all matriculating students.

Physical Standards

Medicine is a physically and mentally demanding profession in which practitioners are asked to place the interests of their patients above their own which requires commitment to a life of service and dedication to continuous learning. The rigorous four year medical school curriculum is where candidates begin to develop the qualities necessary for the practice of medicine. It is during this period of undergraduate medical education that the candidate acquires the foundation of knowledge, attitude, skills and behaviors that he or she will need throughout his or her professional career. During this period, it is critical for the School of Medicine to evaluate whether the candidate is qualified to receive a degree of Doctor of Medicine. The School of Medicine has a responsibility to society to train physicians competent to care for their patients with critical judgment, broadly based knowledge and well honed technical skills. The abilities that physicians must possess to practice safely are reflected in the technical standards that follow. Thus, applicants and candidates must be able to meet these standards and successfully complete all identified requirements to be admitted to the School of Medicine, to progress through the curriculum and ultimately, to receive the degree of Doctor of Medicine. Candidates for the degree of Doctor of Medicine must be capable  of performing in defined areas:  Visual, Oral-Auditory, Motor, Cognitive and Social.

a. Visual

Candidates must be able to observe and participate in experiments in the basic sciences (For example, physiologic and pharmacologic demonstrations and microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues). In order to make proper clinical decisions, candidates must be able to observe a patient accurately.  Candidates must be able to acquire information from written documents, films, slides or videos. Candidates must also be able to interpret X-ray and other graphic images, and digital or analog representations of physiologic phenomena, such as EKG’s with or without the use of sensitive devices. Thus, functional use of vision is necessary (closed and at a distance).

b. Oral-Auditory

Candidates must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively and rapidly with patients (must be able to speak and hear) and members of the health care team (both verbal and written). Candidates must be fluent in English. In emergency situations candidates must be able to understand and convey information essential for the safe and effective care of patients in a clear unambiguous and rapid fashion. In addition, candidates must have all the ability to relate information to and receive from patients in caring and confidential manner.

c. Motor

Candidates must possess the motor skills necessary to perform palpation, percussion, auscultation, and other diagnostic maneuvers. Motor skill demands require reasonable endurance, strength, and precision. Candidates should have sufficient motor function to be able to do basic laboratory tests (urinalysis, CBC, etc.), carry out diagnostic procedures (proctoscopy, paracentesis, etc.) and read EKG’s and X-rays. A candidate should be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Examples of emergency treatment reasonably required of physicians are cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the administration of intravenous medication, application of pressure to stop bleeding, the opening of obstructed airways, the suturing of simple wounds, and the performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of senses of touch and vision.

d. Sensory

Candidates need enhanced sensory skills including accuracy within specific tolerances and functional use for laboratory, classroom and clinical experiences.  Students who are otherwise qualified but who have significant tactile sensory or productive disabilities must be evaluated medically. These disabilities include individuals who were injured by significant burns, have sensory motor deficits, cicatrix formation, or have malformation of upper extremities.

e. Mobility and Strength

Candidates must have sufficient posture, balance, flexibility, mobility, strength and endurance for standing, sitting, and participating in the laboratory, classroom and clinical centers.

f. Cognitive

In order to effectively solve clinical problems, candidates must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, integrate and synthesize in a timely fashion. In addition, they must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of others.

g. Social

Candidates must possess the emotional health required for the full utilization of their intellectual abilities, for the exercise of good judgment, for the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and for the development of effective relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and function effectively under stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of patients. The unpredictable needs of patients are at the heart of becoming a physician. Academic and clinical responsibilities of students must require their presence during day and evening hours, any day of the week. Students must be judged not only for their scholastic accomplishments, but also on their physical and emotional capacities to meet the full requirements of the school’s Curriculum, and to graduate as skilled and effective practitioners of medicine.

The following technical requirements apply:

  1. Is the candidate able to observe demonstrations and participate in experiments in the basic sciences?

  2. Is the candidate able to analyze, synthesize, extrapolate, solve problems, and reach diagnostic and therapeutic judgments?

  3. Does the candidate have sufficient use of the senses of vision and hearing and the somatic sensation necessary to perform a physical examination?  Can the candidate perform palpation, auscultation, and percussion?

  4. Can the candidate reasonably be expected to relate to patients and establish sensitive, professional relationships with patients?

  5. Can the candidate reasonably be expected to learn and perform routine laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures?

  6. Can the candidate reasonably be expected to communicate the results of the examination to the patient and to his colleagues with accuracy, clarity and efficiency?

  7. Can the candidate reasonably be expected to perform routine invasive procedure as part of training using universal procedures without substantial risk of infection to patients?

  8. Can the candidate reasonably be expected to perform with precise, quick and appropriate actions in emergency situations?

  9. Can the candidate reasonably be expected to display good judgment in the assessment and treatment of patients?

  10. Can the candidate reasonably be expected to possess the perseverance, diligence and consistency to complete the medical school curriculum and enter the independent practice of medicine?

  11. Can the candidate reasonably be expected to accept criticism and respond by appropriate modification of behavior?

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