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MD Program Technical Standards


The goal of Drexel University College of Medicine is to prepare our medical graduates to be competent, caring physicians who have the skills of lifelong learning necessary to incorporate new knowledge and methods into their practice as either a generalist or a specialist and to adapt to a changing professional environment. Essential abilities and characteristics required for completion of the MD degree consist of certain minimum physical and cognitive abilities and sufficient mental and emotional stability to assure that candidates for admission, promotion, and graduation are able to complete the entire course of study and participate fully in all aspects of medical training. Drexel University College of Medicine intends for its graduates to become physicians who are capable of pursing and completing graduate medical education, passing licensing exams and obtaining and maintaining medical licensure. The avowed intention of an individual student to practice only a narrow part of clinical medicine, or to pursue a non-clinical career, does not alter the requirement that all medical students take and achieve competence in the full curriculum required by the faculty. For purposes of this document and unless otherwise defined, the term "candidate" means candidates for admission to the MD Program as well as enrolled medical students who are candidates for promotion and graduation.

The College of Medicine also has an ethical responsibility for the safety of patients with whom students and graduates will come in contact. Although students learn and work under the supervision of the faculty, students interact with patients throughout their medical school education. Patient safety and well-being are therefore major factors in establishing requirements involving the physical, cognitive, and emotional abilities of candidates for admission, promotion, and graduation. As a result, the medical education process, which focuses so largely on patients, differs markedly from postsecondary education in fields outside of the health sciences.

The essential abilities and characteristics described herein are also referred to as "technical standards." They are described below in several broad categories including: observation; communication; motor function; intellectual-conceptual (integrative and quantitative) abilities; and behavioral and social skills. In addition to these, candidates must have the physical and emotional stamina to function in a competent and safe manner in settings that may involve heavy workloads, long hours, and stressful situations. 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, any day of the week, at unpredictable times and for unpredictable durations of time. Individuals who constitute a direct threat to the health and safety of others are not suitable candidates for admission, promotion or graduation.

Delineation of technical standards is required for the accreditation of U.S. medical schools by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. The standards were developed by the College of Medicine's faculty from concepts outlined in the Report of the Association of American Medical College's Advisory Panel on Technical Standards in January 1979. The following abilities and characteristics are defined as technical standards, which in conjunction with other academic, professional and behavioral standards established by the faculty, are requirements for admission, promotion, and graduation.

Candidates must possess the capability to complete the entire medical curriculum, achieve the degree Doctor of Medicine, and practice medicine with or without reasonable accommodations.

It should be noted, however, that the use of a trained intermediary is not acceptable in situations where the candidate's judgment is impacted by the intermediary's powers of selection and observation. Technological accommodations can be made for some handicaps in certain areas of the curriculum, but a candidate must meet the essential technical standards so that he or she will be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner. The need for personal aids, assistance, caregivers, readers and interpreters, therefore, may not be acceptable in certain phases of the curriculum, particularly during the clinical years.

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Technical Skills and Abilities

A candidate for the MD degree must have abilities and skills in the five broad areas of observation; communication; motor function; intellectual-conceptual; and behavioral and social skills.

I. Observation

Through independent observation, the candidate must be able to acquire information in the basic medical sciences, including that obtained from demonstrations and experiential activities. The candidate must possess the auditory perception, visual perception and somatic sensation abilities, as well as the mental capacity, to be able to observe and accurately acquire information directly from the patient as well as from other sources including written documents, pictorial images, simulators, computer programs and videos, and to rapidly assimilate large volumes of technically detailed and complex information presented in formal lecture, small group discussions, individual learning activities, and individual clinical settings. The candidate must be able to take in and process information received by whatever sensory function is employed, consistently, rapidly, and accurately.

II. Communication

A candidate should be able to speak, to hear and to observe patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. Communication includes not only speech but reading and writing. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively, sensitively, and efficiently, in English, in oral and written form with patients and all members of the health care team. In responding to emergency situations in the clinical setting, 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.

III. Motor

It is required that a candidate possess the motor skills necessary to directly perform palpation, percussion, auscultation and other diagnostic maneuvers, basic laboratory tests, and diagnostic procedures. A candidate must have the ability to perform both a complete and an organ system specific examination, including a mental status examination. The candidate must be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general and emergency medical care to patients. Examples of emergency treatments include, but are not limited to, adult and pediatric cardiopulmonary resuscitation, airway management, automated external defibrillation, the administration of intravenous medication, application of pressure to control bleeding, and the performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers. Such actions require quick and immediate reaction. Coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and functional use of the senses of touch and vision are required. Candidates must have the ability to remain awake and alert. Candidates must have adequate endurance to carry out activities reasonably required of physicians in clinical activities for extended periods of time.

IV. Intellectual-Conceptual (Integrative and Quantitative) Abilities

The candidate must be able to problem-solve in a time period appropriate for the situation. This critical skill demanded of physicians requires the ability to learn and reason, and to integrate, analyze, and synthesize data concurrently in a multi-task setting where they may experience a high level of stress, fatigue and distraction. In addition, the candidate must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures. The candidate must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, integrate and synthesize in the context of the study of medicine and in the provision of patient care. The candidate must be able to comprehend extensive written material, evaluate and apply information, and engage in critical thinking in the classroom and clinical setting. The candidate must be able to consider alternatives and make decisions in a timely manner for managing or intervening in the care of a patient.

V. Behavioral and Social Attributes

Because the medical profession is governed by ethical principles, a candidate must have the capacity to learn and understand these values and perform within their guidelines. Candidates should be able to relate to patients, as well as staff and colleagues, with honesty, integrity, non-discrimination, self-sacrifice, and dedication. Candidates must be able to develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to identify personal reactions and responses, recognize multiple points of view and integrate these appropriately into clinical decision making. Candidates must be able to communicate and care for, in a non-judgmental way, persons whose culture, sexual orientation, or spiritual beliefs are different than their own. The candidate must be able to examine the entire patient, male or female, regardless of the candidate's social, cultural, or religious beliefs. A candidate must possess the emotional health required to fully utilize their intellectual abilities, to exercise good judgment, to complete patient care responsibilities promptly and to relate to patients, families, and colleagues with courtesy, compassion, maturity, and respect for their dignity. The candidate must display this emotional health and flexibility in spite of stressful work, physically taxing workloads, changing environments, and in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that are assessed during the admissions and education processes.

Candidates must be capable of fulfilling applicable class and clinical attendance requirements as well as meeting applicable deadlines for completion of curricular and clinical responsibilities. Candidates must be able to cooperate with others and work effectively as a member or leader of a healthcare team or other professional group, accept and modify behavior in response to constructive feedback from others, and take personal responsibility for making appropriate positive changes.

Candidates must be able to function effectively in new, different, and /or distant social environments including instances where they are separated from their customary support structure or family unit. They must know their limits, recognize when they should seek professional consultation, assistance and/or supervision, and do so in a timely manner. Candidates, like physicians, must have the capacity to self-assess their ability to function at the level necessary to provide effective and safe care of their patients and to proactively seek appropriate assistance or treatment before impairments compromise patient care and safety.

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Candidates will be judged not only on 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. Students must be able to accomplish each of the College of Medicine Graduation Competencies before graduation.

All candidates accepted to the College of Medicine and current students must be able to meet the College's technical standards with or without reasonable accommodations. All candidates are asked to review the standards and to certify that they have read, understand and are able to meet the standards. In accordance with law and Drexel University College of Medicine policy, no qualified individual with a disability shall, on the basis of that disability, be excluded from participation in College of Medicine programs or activities. The College of Medicine will provide reasonable accommodation to a qualified individual with a disability. Candidates must also be aware that approval for and provision of reasonable accommodations at DUCOM does not mean that similar accommodations would be granted elsewhere by post-graduate clinical training sites or by national licensing review boards.

A candidate who is unable to meet these technical standards with or without a reasonable accommodation may be denied admission or may be dismissed from the MD Program. Should a candidate pose a significant risk to health and safety of patients, self, or others that cannot be eliminated with a reasonable accommodation, the candidate may be denied admission or may be dismissed from the MD Program.

It is the responsibility of a candidate who seeks a reasonable accommodation(s) to contact the Office of Disability Resources.

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Office of Disability Resources

The Office of Disability Resources can be contacted at the following address:
Office of Disability Resources
Drexel University
3201 Arch St., Suite 210
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: 215.895.1401
TTY: 215.895.2299

Contact Information

Drexel University College of Medicine
Office of Admissions
2900 W. Queen Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19129
   215.991.8202  |     215.843.1766 (Fax)

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