School of Medicine

Abilities and Skills Required


In selecting students and monitoring their progress through the curriculum, medical school faculty are guided by standards set by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. The faculty place strong emphasis on the academic achievements of applicants, including their performance in the sciences relevant to medicine. This includes evidence of satisfactory scholastic achievement as indicated by grade point averages and scores on the Medical College Admission Test. Breadth of education and life experience are also deemed important in the selection process.

The faculty is equally cognizant of its responsibilities to patients who will be a part of the educational process and to future patients who will entrust their welfare and lives to medical school graduates. The faculty must therefore carefully consider the personal and emotional characteristics, motivation, industry, maturity, resourcefulness, and personal health of the aspiring physician.


A candidate for the M.D. degree must have abilities and skills in six essential areas:

  • Observation
  • Communication
  • Motor
  • Conceptual, integrative and quantitative
  • Behavior and social
  • Ethical

Technological compensation can be made of disabilities in certain of these areas, but a candidate should be able to perform certain basic functions in a reasonably independent manner. The use of a trained intermediary to observe or interpret information or to perform procedures is deemed to compromise the essential function of the physician and may jeopardize the safety of the patient. The six areas of abilities/skills are detailed as follows:

Observation: The candidate must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences. A candidate must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision and somatic sensation. It is enhanced by the functional use of the sense of smell.

Communication: A candidate should be able to speak, to receive information in oral form, and to observe patients in order to elicit information, to describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and to perceive non-verbal communications. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively with patients. Communication includes not only speech, but also reading and writing. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively, efficiently and rapidly, when required, in oral and written form with patients and with all members of the health care team.

Motor: Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate should be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Such examples of emergency treatment reasonably required of physicians include but are not limited to cardiopulmonary resuscitation, administration of intravenous medication, application of pressure to stop bleeding opening of obstructed airways, suturing of a simple wound, and performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Problem solving, the clinical skills demanded of physicians, requires all of these intellectual abilities.

Behavioral and Social Attributes: A candidate must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties and ambiguities inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that should be assessed during the admissions and education processes.

Ethical Standards: A candidate must demonstrate professional demeanor and behavior, and must perform in an ethical manner in all dealing with peers, faculty, staff and patients.

In determining the minimum standards for completion of the medical school curriculum, certain disabilities can be accommodated without sacrificing the standards required by the school or the integrity of the curriculum. The school is committed to development of competitive and qualified disabled candidates.

At the same time, the school recognizes the essential need to preserve the standards and integrity of curriculum requisite for the competent and effective physician. Since the treatment of patients is an essential part of the educational program, the health and safety of those patients must be protected at all costs.