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School of Medicine Columbia

Technical Standards

We are dedicated to your success, with standards in place to help ensure all our accepted students are physically and mentally prepared to take on the rigor of our academic program. 

The curriculum of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine – Columbia has been designed to provide a general professional education leading to the medical doctor (M.D.) degree and to prepare undifferentiated students to enter graduate medical training in a wide variety of medical specialties and sub-specialties. 

Technical Standards for Admission, Retention and Graduation

All candidates for admission to and all current students at the School of Medicine, herein after designated as candidates for the M.D. degree, should possess sufficient intellectual capacity, physical ability, emotional and psychological stability, interpersonal sensitivity, and communication skills to acquire the scientific knowledge, interpersonal and technical competencies, professional attitudes, and clinical abilities required to pursue graduate medical education and to meet all requirements for medical licensure and enter the independent practice of medicine.

All candidates should be aware that the academic and clinical responsibilities of medical students may, at times, require their presence during day and evening hours, seven days per week. Candidates should be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. Individuals whose performance is impaired by abuse of alcohol or other substances are not suitable candidates for admission, promotion, or graduation. 

While the School of Medicine fully endorses the spirit and intent of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992, and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008; it also acknowledges that certain minimum technical standards must be present in candidates for admission, retention and graduation. Patient safety and well-being are considered as major factors in the determination of requirements regarding the physical, cognitive, and emotional abilities of all candidates. Those individuals who would constitute a direct threat to the health or safety of themselves, patients, or others are not considered suitable candidates for admission or retention in medical school. 

The delineation of technical standards is required by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education to confirm that accreditation standards are being met. Although these standards serve to delineate the necessary physical and mental abilities of all candidates, they are not intended to deter any qualified candidate for whom reasonable accommodation will allow fulfillment of the complete curriculum. A “qualified person with a disability” is an individual with a disability who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the School of Medicine’s educational programs, with or without reasonable accommodations. Each applicant to the School of Medicine, as part of the school’s supplemental application, is required to acknowledge in writing the reading, understanding, and meeting of all technical standards. Candidates for admission who have a disability and use accommodations should begin discussions with the University of South Carolina Student Disability Resource Center either prior to or as soon as the offer of admission is received and accepted.  All candidates (admission candidates and current students) with disabilities bear the responsibility of providing that office with current information documenting the general nature and extent of the disability, and the proposed accommodations. Evaluating and facilitating accommodation requests is a collaborative effort among the candidate, the School of Medicine, and the USC Student Disability Resource Center. The School of Medicine reserves the right to request new or additional information through the Student Disability Resource Center should a candidate/student have or develop a condition that would place patients, the candidate/student, or others at risk or that may affect his/her need for accommodation. 

The School of Medicine has established the following technical standards for admission to, retention in, and graduation from, the M.D. program:

(a)  Observation

Candidates/students must be able to observe demonstrations, collect data, and participate in experiments and dissections in the basic sciences, including, but not limited to, demonstrations in animals, microbiologic cultures, and microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states. Candidates/students must be able to accurately observe patients and integrate these observations with the findings obtained during the elicitation of a medical history and performance of a physical examination in order to develop an appropriate diagnosis and establish a therapeutic plan. 

(b)  Communication

Candidates/students must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in the English language in oral and written form with patients, their families, and all members of the health care team. They must be able to obtain a medical history and perform a mental status examination, interpret non-verbal aspects of communication, and establish therapeutic relationships with patients. Candidates/students must be able to accurately and clearly record information. 

(c)  Motor Function

Candidates/students must possess the capacity to perform complete physical examinations and diagnostic maneuvers. Candidates/students should be able to respond to emergency situations in a timely manner and to execute motor movements required to provide general and emergency treatment to patients. They must adhere to universal precaution measures and meet safety standards applicable to inpatient and outpatient settings and other clinical activities. Candidates/students must be mobile and able to function independently within the clinical environment. 

(d)  Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities

Candidates/students must be able to ultimately make logical diagnostic and therapeutic judgments. Candidates/students should be able to make measurements, calculate, and reason; to analyze, integrate, and synthesize data; and to problem-solve. Candidates/students should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures. Candidates/students should be able to integrate rapidly, consistently, and accurately all data received by whatever sense(s) employed.

(e)  Behavioral and Social Attributes

Candidates/students must be able to establish appropriate relationships with a wide range of faculty members, professional colleagues, and patients. Candidates/students should possess the personal qualities of integrity, empathy, concern for the welfare of others, interest, and motivation. They should possess the emotional and psychological health required for the full use of their intellectual abilities; the exercise of good judgment; the prompt completion of all responsibilities associated with the diagnosis and care of patients; and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients, patients’ families, and professional colleagues. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to be flexible, and to function in the face of ambiguities inherent in the clinical situation. 

Consideration for Admission

In evaluating candidates for admission and candidates for the M.D. degree, it is essential that the integrity of the curriculum be maintained, that those elements deemed necessary for the education of a physician be preserved, and that the health and safety of patients be maintained. While compensation, modification, and accommodation can be made for some disabilities on the part of candidates/students, candidates must be able to perform the duties of a student and of a physician in a reasonably independent manner. An accommodation is not reasonable if it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of self and or others, if it requires a substantial modification in an element of the curriculum that is considered essential, if it lowers academic standards, or if it poses an undue administrative or financial burden. The use of a trained intermediary would result in mediation of a candidate’s judgment by another person’s powers of selection and observation. Therefore, the use of trained intermediaries to assist students in meeting the technical standards for admission, retention, or graduation would constitute an unacceptable substantial modification, except in rare circumstances, and is not permitted.

The School of Medicine will consider for admission any candidate who has the ability to perform or to learn to perform the skills and abilities specified in these technical standards. Candidates for the M.D. degree will be assessed at regular intervals not only on the basis of their academic abilities, but also on the basis of their non-academic (physical, interpersonal, communication, psychological, and emotional) abilities to meet the requirements of the curriculum and to graduate as skilled and effective medical practitioners. The faculty and administration bear significant responsibility in ensuring that the technical standards are maintained by all candidates.  

Rev: 04/19/2021

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