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Technical Standards


Technical Standards for Admission, Continuation and Graduation


The mission of the T.H. Chan School of Medicine at the UMass Chan Medical School is to graduate skilled and effective physicians. The T.H. Chan School of Medicine selects applicants who are deemed best qualified to complete the curriculum and are considered most likely to become successful physicians. Applicants are selected for admission based not only on their scholastic achievement and abilities, but also on their intellectual, physical and emotional capacities to meet the standards of the curriculum and to have a successful career in medicine. The T.H. Chan School of Medicine requires that the curriculum provide a general education in medicine enabling each graduate to pursue residency training in all disciplines of medicine.  This requires the development of broad knowledge, skills, and behaviors, ongoing self-directed learning, and delivery of safe, competent medical care.


The T.H. Chan School of Medicine will consider for admission any applicant who meets its academic criteria, and can meet the T.H. Chan School of Medicine Technical Standards, with or without reasonable accommodations, consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Technical Standards are listed and described below. Applicants who have questions about whether they meet the Technical Standards are advised to review these standards with their healthcare providers prior to application to the T.H. Chan School of Medicine. The use of a human intermediary to meet these technical standards means that a student’s judgment is guided by another person’s powers of observation and interpretation. Students are, therefore, not permitted to use such intermediaries in meeting the technical standards of UMass Chan's T.H. Chan School of Medicine.

The following technical standards specify attributes necessary for completing medical school training, enabling each graduate to subsequently enter residency training and clinical practice. These standards describe the essential functions students must meet in order to fulfill the requirements of an undergraduate medical education, and thus, are pre-requisites for entrance, continuation, advancement, retention, and graduation from medical school. Deficiencies in meeting these technical standards may jeopardize the student’s academic standing and/or compromise the provision of high quality patient care and, as such, may be grounds for dismissal from the school.

Certain chronic or recurrent illnesses can interfere with safe patient care and may not be compatible with medical practice or training.  Any student who is or becomes a carrier of blood borne pathogens [including but not limited to Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, and Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV)] must read the addendum and acknowledge the policy statement on blood-borne pathogens appended to this document.  Other conditions that may lead to a high likelihood of debilitating conditions or illnesses should also be carefully considered before committing to a clinical career.

Technical Standards:

A student must possess aptitude, abilities and skills in five areas:

  1. Observation
  2. Communication
  3. Sensory and Motor Coordination
  4. Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities
  5. Professionalism:  Behavioral and Social Attributes

1. Observation

Students must be able to make accurate observations in both the clinical sciences and basic sciences.  Such observations may include, but are not limited to:

  • participation in anatomic dissection of preserved tissues and cadavers,
  • microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states,
  • demonstrations in the classroom or online including slides, films, and videos,
  • discernment of signs of illness, discomfort and emotional state through direct observations of patients,
  • measurements associated with competent use of bedside diagnostic equipment, such as, but not limited to, the sphygmomanometer, stethoscope, ophthalmoscope and otoscope, and
  • diagnostic tests.

2. Communication

Students must be able to relate effectively and sensitively with patients and family members of all genders, ages, races, life-styles, sexual orientations, political, cultural and religious backgrounds. Students must be able to convey a sense of compassion, empathy and respect. Students must be able to communicate with faculty, supervisors and other members of the health care team. Communication includes:

  • verbal and non-verbal communication with patients in order to elicit accurate histories,
  • preparation of oral and written presentations about patients’ problems and medical conditions,
  • communication of complex findings, interpretations and recommendations to patients, family members and other members of the health care team,
  • recognition of emotional states such as sadness, worry, agitation and lack of comprehension of physician communication,
  • communication with patients and family members through translators when appropriate,
  • reading and recording observations, assessments and plans legibly in electronic and paper patient records and in other communications with colleagues,
  • maintenance of computer skills to access patient records and medical information, and to record information in patient records, and
  • accurate and timely response to pages, emails, and other communications from other members of the health care team, faculty, administrators, mentors, course directors, deans, or educational leaders.

3. Sensory and Motor Coordination or Function

Students must  have the gross and fine motor skills required to competently perform and accurately interpret information from the complete physical examination any patient of all genders, utilizing palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. 

  • This requires the ability to accurately observe and to process visual, auditory, exteroceptive (smell, touch, pain and temperature) and proprioceptive (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis, and vibratory) phenomena.
  • Students must have the ability to handle medical instruments and equipment with precision.
  • Under supervision, a student must respond promptly to medical emergencies and function appropriately as a member the medical team.
  • Students must able to tolerate physically taxing workloads, long work hours, and able to stand for several hours at a time. 

4. Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities

These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, judgment, and synthesis. The medical student must possess these intellectual abilities in order to be skilled in clinical reasoning and problem solving. In addition, the medical student is expected to: 

  • process important findings from history, physical examination and laboratory data in order to develop a reasoned explanation for patients’ differential diagnoses,
  • comprehend three dimensional and spatial relationships of structures,
  • under supervision, integrate information and develop a cost-effective diagnostic and management plan,
  • deal simultaneously with several problems and/or tasks and properly triage the work at hand,
  • identify and communicate the limits of their knowledge to others when appropriate,
  • assimilate new information from peers, teachers, and the medical literature in formulating diagnoses and plans, and
  • possess good judgment and effective teamwork in patient care, and course assignments.

5. Professionalism: Behavioral and Social Attributes

Students must always conduct themselves with the highest standards of professionalism as expected by patients, peers, faculty and those in the various healthcare professions.  Students must act with integrity and honesty in all interactions, both in the classroom and in clinical settings.  They must possess those intellectual, ethical, physical and emotional capabilities required to undertake the full curriculum and to achieve the competencies required by the faculty. In addition, the student must consistently demonstrate the capacity for accountability and responsibility expected of a physician.

Consistent with the qualities of professionalism expected of a physician, students who matriculate in the T.H. Chan School of Medicine must:

  • demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills,
  • exercise sound judgment,
  • be consistently punctual for all required activities,
  • demonstrate respect for individuals and forming effective relationships with patients of all ages, gender, heritage, sexual orientation, cultural and religious backgrounds,
  • demonstrate cultural sensitivity,
  • possess emotional stability in stressful situations,
  • respond to emails, phone calls, pages etc. in a timely manner,
  • maintain the highest professional standards on social media,
  • assure the confidentiality of patient information,
  • abide by all rules, regulations and policies of the school and clinical training sites, student handbook and honor code,
  • accept constructive feedback from others and take responsibility for actions and make appropriate, positive changes,
  • engage in respectful, timely and effective communication
  • work effectively, respectfully and professionally as part of educational and healthcare teams, and with peers, supervisors and faculty,
  • demonstrate motivation to learn in all settings,
  • demonstrate empathy and concern for others, and
  • show compassion for patients while maintaining appropriate boundaries for professional relationships.

Students must function effectively under stress and possess adequate endurance to successfully meet their academic and clinical responsibilities. Students must be able to successfully adapt to changing environments and situations demonstrating necessary flexibility. They must learn to function in the setting of patient care and in the face of uncertainties inherent in the practice of medicine. Students must also be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and long work hours.

Maintaining the standards of professionalism is an essential component of patient care and the practice of medicine. Student violations of the standards of professionalism may lead to dismissal from the T.H. Chan School of Medicine.

Updated October 2017