Technical, Non-Academic Standards

University of California, Riverside School of Medicine Technical, Non-Academic, Standards

Essential Abilities and Characteristics Required for Completion of the M.D. Degree


The M.D. degree is a broad undifferentiated degree attesting to general knowledge in medicine and the basic skills required for the practice of medicine. Essential abilities and characteristics required for completion of the M.D. 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. The School of Medicine intends for its graduates to become competent and compassionate physicians who are capable of pursuing 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 medical school as well as enrolled medical students who are candidates for promotion and graduation.

The School of Medicine 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. The essential abilities and characteristics described herein are also referred to as technical (or non-academic) standards. They are described below in several broad categories including: observation; communication; motor function; intellectual-conceptual, integrative, and quantitative abilities; and social and behavioral skills. In addition to these, candidates must have the physical stamina and emotional stability to function in a competent manner in settings that may involve heavy workloads and stressful situations. Individuals who constitute a direct threat to the health and safety of others or are currently impaired by alcohol or other substance abuse 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 (LCME). The following abilities and characteristics are defined as technical standards, which in conjunction with academic standards established by the faculty, are requirements for admission, promotion, and graduation. A student who has or develops a chronic disease or condition will be expected to seek and continue under the care of a qualified health care provider.


Candidates must be able to observe demonstrations and participate in experiments of science, including but not limited to such things as dissection of cadavers; examination of specimens in anatomy, pathology, and neuroanatomy laboratories; and microscopic study of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states. Candidates must be able to accurately observe patients and assess findings. They must be able to obtain a complete or focused 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. These skills require the use of vision, hearing, touch or the functional equivalent.


Candidates must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with patients, their families, and members of the health care team. They must be able to obtain a medical history in a timely fashion, interpret non-verbal aspects of communication, and establish therapeutic relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to record information accurately and clearly; and communicate effectively in English with other health care professionals in a variety of patient settings.

Motor Function

Candidates must possess the capacity to perform physical examinations and diagnostic maneuvers. They must be able to respond to emergency situations in a timely manner and provide general and emergency care. Such activities require physical mobility, coordination of both gross and fine motor neuromuscular function, and balance and equilibrium.

Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities

Candidates must have sufficient cognitive (mental) abilities and effective learning techniques to assimilate the detailed and complex information presented in the medical student curriculum. They must be able to learn through a variety of modalities including, but not limited to, classroom instruction; small group, team and collaborative activities; individual study; preparation and presentation of reports; and use of computer and information technology. Candidates must be able to memorize, measure, calculate, reason, analyze, synthesize, and transmit information by multiple mechanisms. They must recognize and draw conclusions about three-dimensional spatial relationships and logical sequential relationships among events. They must be able to formulate and test hypotheses that enable effective and timely problem-solving.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Candidates must demonstrate the maturity and emotional stability required for full use of their intellectual abilities. They must accept responsibility for learning, exercising good judgment, and promptly completing all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients. They must understand the legal and ethical aspects of the practice of medicine and function within both the law and ethical standards of the medical profession. Candidates must be able to interact with patients, their families, and health care personnel in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner. They must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and long work hours, to function effectively under stress, and to display flexibility and adaptability to changing environments. Candidates must be able to contribute to collaborative, constructive learning environments; accept constructive feedback from others; and take personal responsibility for making appropriate positive changes. They must adhere to universal precaution measures and meet safety standards applicable to inpatient and outpatient settings and other clinical activities.

Ethical and Legal Standards

Candidates must meet the legal standards to be licensed to practice medicine in the State of California. As such, candidates for admission must acknowledge and provide written explanation of any felony or misdemeanor offense(s) action taken against them prior to matriculation at the School of Medicine. In addition, should the student be convicted of any felony or misdemeanor offense(s) while in medical school, they agree to immediately notify the senior associate dean for student affairs as to the nature of the conviction. Students must be of the highest ethical and moral behavior. Felony conviction or failure to disclose prior or new offenses can lead to disciplinary action by the school that may include dismissal.

Ability to Meet the School of Medicine's Technical Standards

The School of Medicine intends for its students and graduates to become competent and compassionate physicians who are capable of entering residency training (graduate medical education) and meeting all requirements for medical licensure.

Equal Access to the School of Medicine's Educational Program

The University of California does not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities who apply for admission to the M.D. degree program or who are enrolled as medical students. Otherwise qualified individuals shall not be excluded from admission or participation in the School of Medicine's educational programs and activities solely by reason of their disability or medical condition. The School of Medicine provides reasonable accommodation in its academic programs to qualified individuals with disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is one that does not require substantial program modification or lower academic standards. Documented learning disabilities are included under this policy.

Should a candidate have or develop a condition that would place patients or others at risk or that would jeopardize his or her ability to complete medical student education and pursue residency training and licensure, the candidate may be denied admission or may be dismissed from school. Should a candidate have or develop a disability that poses 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 school.

Students with a disability must meet these technical standards, with or without accommodation.  It is the responsibility of an admitted or continuing student with a disability, or a student who develops a disability, and who needs an accommodation to notify the Office of Student Special Services of the disability and provide adequate documentation of the general nature and extent of the disability and the functional limitations to be accommodated. A student who has or develops any chronic disease or condition will be expected to seek and continue in the care of a qualified health care provider, if the disease or condition could place patients or others at risk.  Evaluating and facilitating accommodation requests is a collaborative effort between the admitted or continuing student, the Office of Student Special Services and the Senior Associate Dean for SOM Student Affairs. The UCR SOM reserves the right to request new or additional information.

Should an admitted or continuing student have or develop a condition that would place patients, the student, or others at risk or that may affect his/her need for accommodation, an evaluation with the Office of Student Special Services may be necessary. As in initial assessments, a complete and careful reconsideration of all the skills, attitudes, and attributes of each candidate will be performed. This includes an assessment of his/her willingness, desire and ability to complete the medical curriculum and fulfill all requirements for medical licensure, and will be informed by the knowledge that students with varied types of disabilities have the ability to become successful medical professionals.