The College of Medicine’s goal is the broad preparation of students to practice medicine. Regardless of eventual specialty selection, students must demonstrate competence in those intellectual, physical, and social tasks that together represent the fundamentals of medical practice.
The Liaison Committee on Medical Education, which accredits the medical school, requires the delineation of technical standards, which are the necessary physical and mental abilities of all candidates and graduates. The following abilities, in conjunction with academic standards, are requirements for admission, promotion, and graduation.
Students must be able to observe demonstrations and to conduct experiments in the basic sciences, including but not limited to physiologic and pharmacologic demonstrations in animals, and microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states. Students must be able to obtain a medical history and perform a complete physical examination in order to integrate findings based on these observations and to develop an appropriate diagnostic and treatment plan. They must be able to accurately observe patients at a distance and nearby, noting nonverbal and verbal signals, and competently assess findings on physical exam using specific instruments, such as a stethoscope, otoscope, and ophthalmoscope.
Students must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with patients, their families and members of the health care team. They must demonstrate not only appropriate speech but also skilled listening, reading, and writing. Students must communicate with the purposes of eliciting information; accurately describing changes in mood, activity, and posture; and perceiving verbal and nonverbal communication. Students must recognize and promptly respond to emotional communications such as sadness, worry, agitation, and lack of comprehension of physician communication. Students must be able to communicate quickly, effectively, and efficiently in oral and written English with all members of the health care team in a variety of settings.
Sensory and Motor Coordination or Function
Students must have sufficient sensory and motor function to perform a physical examination using palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. Students must be able to execute motor skills that are reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. They must be able to respond promptly to urgencies within the hospital and must not hinder the ability of their co-workers to provide prompt care.
Intellectual-Conceptual Integrative and Quantitative Abilities
Students must have sufficient cognitive abilities to assimilate, interpret, and apply detailed and complex information. Other abilities required of students include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, judgment, numerical recognition, and synthesis. Problem solving, a critical skill demanded of physicians, requires all of these intellectual abilities and must be performed quickly, especially in emergency situations. Students must be able to identify significant findings from history, physical examination, and laboratory data to provide a reasoned explanation for likely diagnoses, and to prescribe medications and therapy, recalling and retaining information in an efficient and timely manner. The ability to incorporate new information from peers, teachers, and the medical literature in formulating diagnoses and plans is essential. Good judgment in assessing patients and in developing diagnostic and therapeutic plans is essential; students must be able to identify and communicate the limits of their knowledge to others when appropriate. Students must be able to interpret graphs describing biologic relationships and to work with other similar presentations of data.
The personal qualities of empathy, integrity, honesty, concern for others, good interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation are required. Students must be able to relate effectively and sensitively to patients, conveying a sense of compassion and empathy. Students must possess the emotional health required for full use of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities related to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. At times, students will be required to be aware of and to react appropriately to their own biases and immediate emotional responses. For example, students must maintain a professional demeanor and organization in the face of long hours and personal fatigue, dissatisfied patients, and tired colleagues. Students must be able to develop professional relationships with patients, providing comfort and reassurance when appropriate while protecting patients' confidentiality. Students must be able to work collaboratively with other members of the health care team. Students must possess adequate endurance to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. All students are at times required to work for extended periods, occasionally with rotating shifts. Students must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Students are expected to accept appropriate suggestions and criticisms and, if necessary, to respond by modifying their behavior.