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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 Columbia - 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 any pathway of graduate medical education and to 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.

While the School of Medicine fully endorses the spirit and intent of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992, it also acknowledges that certain minimum technical standards must be present in candidates for admission, retention and graduation.  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.  Therefore, the School of Medicine has established technical standards for admission to, retention in and graduation from, the M.D. program.

All candidates for admission must fulfill the minimum requirements for admission and all candidates for the M.D. degree must complete all required courses and clerkships as indicated in the School of Medicine Bulletin.

All candidates for admission and all candidates for the M.D. degree should possess sufficient physical, intellectual, interpersonal, social, emotional, psychological and communication abilities to:

  1. Establish appropriate relationships with a wide range of faculty members, professional colleagues and patients.
    Candidates should possess the personal qualities of integrity, empathy, concern for the welfare of others, interest and motivation. You should possess the emotional and psychological health required for the full use of your 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. You must be able to adapt to changing environments, to be flexible and to function in the face of ambiguities inherent in the clinical situation. Candidates should be able to speak, to hear, to read, to write and to observe patients in order to elicit information, to describe changes in mood, activity, posture and behavior and to perceive nonverbal communications. You should be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in the English language in oral and written form with all members of the health care team. You must be mobile and able to function independently within the clinical environment.   
  2. Obtain a medical history and perform physical and mental examinations with a wide variety of patients.
    Candidates must be able to observe patients accurately both closely and at a distance. Observation requires the functional use of the sense of vision and other sensory modalities and is enhanced by the functional use of the sense of smell. You should have sufficient exteroceptive sense (touch, pain and temperature), proprioceptive sense (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis and vibratory) and motor function to carry out the requirements of the physical examination. You should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic operations. You should be able to use effectively, and in a coordinated manner, standard instruments necessary for a physical examination (e.g., stethoscope, otoscope, sphygmomanometer, ophthalmoscope and reflex hammer). Candidates should be able to execute motor movements required to provide general and emergency treatment to patients, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the administration of intravenous medication, the 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 fine and gross muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.
  3. Conduct tests and perform laboratory work.
    Candidates 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. You should be able to understand basic laboratory studies and interpret your results, draw arterial and venous blood and carry out diagnostic procedures (e.g., proctoscopy and paracentesis).
  4. Ultimately make logical diagnostic and therapeutic judgments.
    Candidates should be able to make measurements, calculate and reason; to analyze, integrate and synthesize data; and to problem-solve. You should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures. You should be able to integrate rapidly, consistently and accurately all data received by whatever sense(s) employed.

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, you must be able to perform the duties of a student and of a physician in a reasonably independent manner. 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 is not permitted.


Consideration for Admission

The School of Medicine will consider admitting 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.

Rev: 7/2009

Approved by:

  • Admissions Committee (September 9, 2009)
  • Academic Standards Committee (October 2, 2009)
  • Executive Committee (October 6, 2009)

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