Office of Admissions and Financial Aid

Technical Standards for Admissions

The faculty has assumed the responsibility to educate students as undifferentiated general physicians able to undertake further education in the specialty of their choice. Therefore, graduates must exhibit the knowledge and skills to function independently in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care.

The foundation of knowledge in the Biomedical Sciences is delivered in a modular form over fourteen months. In this "basic science" portion of the curriculum all students must possess the abilities and skills to observe, understand, integrate, and communicate material presented in various formats, including: lectures, laboratories, patient interviews and videotape presentations, computer programs and simulations, and small group discussions. In order to dissect the human body and to perform gross and microscopic examinations of normal and abnormal human specimens, it is necessary to possess certain abilities and skills which include (but are not limited to) sensory, motor, emotional, and intellectual abilities and skills. We feel these skills and abilities are essential to performing in these courses in a competent manner. The University has established a policy that governs individuals with disabilities who are concerned they may not be able to fully participate in these courses.

The core clinical experience exists as a continuous twelve-month modular experience. Module IV consists of four allied blocks each lasting three months in duration: Medicine and Family Medicine; Surgery, Emergency Medicine, and Anesthesia; Neurology, Psychiatry, and Surgical Sub-Specialties (Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Orthopaedics, Ophthalmology); and Obstetrics-Gynecology/Pediatrics. During this intensive clinical experience aspects of biomedical science as well as Humanism and Professionalism are integrated into the curriculum. The students become familiar with the methods and skill to practice clinical medicine under direct faculty supervision in all required locations. Clinical experiences are provided in both acute care and outpatient ambulatory settings.

The acute care experiences occur primarily at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, however, students will be expected to also participate at the affiliate institutions which include institutions within the city (Chestnut Hill Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Hospital, Presbyterian Medical Center, and Veteran’s Administration Medical Center) as well as remote institutions such as York Hospital and Englewood Hospital. Additionally, now nearly one hundred fifty ambulatory sites that are participating in the Health System are available for outpatient educational experiences. The clinical experience is a demanding one in which students are required to develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients and colleagues. This may require a candidate to be able to tolerate physical and emotional stress and continue to function effectively. Patient care frequently requires long periods of continuous physical activity without rest, and may require rapid movement between different patient sites on and between different units within a given building and between different buildings. As efforts are made to move medical education into the ambulatory arena, the ability to travel to remote sites both within and outside of the Philadelphia area will become paramount. A candidate will need to possess qualities of adaptability and flexibility as well as functioning at a high level in the face of uncertainty. It is expected that the individual will demonstrate a high level of compassion for others, a motivation to serve, integrity and a consciousness of social values. A candidate must possess effective interpersonal skills to interact positively with people from all levels of society, all ethnic backgrounds, and all belief systems. It is a synthesis of all of the above qualities that we believe is necessary for a candidate to independently demonstrate the Behavioral and Social Attributes noted below and to appropriately diagnose patients and provide medical care. All candidates for the M.D. degree must possess the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze, and synthesize data. They must have the functional use of the sense of vision, hearing, and equilibrium. Their exteroceptive (touch, pain, and temperature) and proprioceptive (position, pressure, movement, sterogenesis, and vibratory) senses must be sufficiently intact to enable them to carry out all activities required for a complete medical education. Candidates must have motor function capabilities to meet the demands of medical education and the demands of total patient care. The candidates for the medical degree must be able to independently demonstrate a range of abilities and skills. Examples include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Observation - the ability to observe is required for demonstration, visual presentations, lectures, and laboratories. A candidate must be able to observe patients accurately and completely, both at a distance and closely. This ability requires functional vision, hearing, and somatic sensation and is enhanced by a sense of smell. The candidate should also be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and the spatial relationships of structures.
  2. Communication - a candidate should be able to independently communicate with and observe patients in order to elicit information, perceive non-verbal communication, and describe changes in mood, activity, and posture. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients including not only speech but also reading and writing. Communication in oral and written form with the health care team must be effective and efficient.
  3. Motor - the candidate should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate should be able to interpret basic laboratory tests, carry out basic procedures (e.g., phlebotomy, intravenous cannulation, rectal and pelvic examination, splinting of the extremities) as well as read EKGs and x-rays. Candidates should be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Examples of emergency treatment reasonably required of physicians are cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the administration of intravenous medication, 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 gross and fine muscular movement, equilibrium, and functional uses of senses of touch, vision, and hearing.
  4. Intellectual - conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities in problem solving are critical skills demanded of physicians. The candidate should be able to integrate and assimilate large volumes of information from multiple sources and multiple educational experiences in a timely fashion, and be able to apply that to problem solving and decision making.
  5. Behavioral and Social Attributes - the candidate must be able to use his/her intellectual ability, exercise good judgment, and complete all responsibilities attendant to making the appropriate diagnosis and professionally caring for patients.

Responsibility for the technical standards is placed on the Committee on Admissions for prospective candidates. For students who have matriculated into the School of Medicine issues related to technical standards are dealt with directly by the Student Standards Committee, and considered on an individual basis.

The Perelman School of Medicine abides by the University’s “Guidelines for Addressing Academic Issues of Students with Disabilities” adopted by the faculty and implemented by the Office of Affirmative Action.

The Technical Standards For Admission was approved by the Standing Committee of Department Chairs and Directors of Centers and Institutes on April 21, 1999.

Page Updated: 16-Jul-2014