Technical Standards Policy

Technical Standards Policy for Medical Students

Creighton University is committed to admitting “qualified students…without regard to race, color, age, national or ethnic origin, disability, sex, marital status, or religion.”[1] We welcome all applicants.

A qualified applicant is a person who demonstrates superior intelligence and other skills to complete a very rigorous curriculum and to meet certain technical standards for physicians and medical students. The M.D. degree attests to the mastery of general knowledge in all fields requisite for the practice of medicine. The awarding of the M.D. degree signifies that the holder is a person who is prepared for the practice of medicine through entry into postgraduate training programs. Thus, the graduate of Creighton University School of Medicine must possess the knowledge and skills to function in a wide variety of clinical settings and to render a wide spectrum of patient care.

In order to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills, medical students must possess certain sensory and motor functions to permit them to carry out activities described below. Medical students must be able to integrate all information received by whatever sensory function is employed, and to do so consistently, rapidly, and accurately. Furthermore, medical students must be able to learn, integrate, analyze, and synthesize data.

Medical students must demonstrate the ability to tolerate physically challenging workloads and to function effectively under stress. Attending to the needs of patients is at the heart of becoming a physician. Academic and clinical responsibilities of medical students may require their presence during daytime and nighttime hours, any day of the year.

Candidates for the M.D. degree must have a variety of abilities and skills including: observation; communication; motor; intellectual-conceptual, integrative and quantitative; and attitudinal-behavioral, interpersonal and emotional.

Technological accommodation is available to assist in certain cases of disability and may be permitted in certain areas. However, under all circumstances, a candidate for the M.D. degree should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner. For example, the use of a third party means that a candidate’s judgment must be mediated by another person’s (the third party) powers of selection and observation. Therefore the use of a third party to assist a candidate or student in meeting the technical standards for admission or graduation is not permitted.

  • Observation: Candidates and students must have sufficient vision to be able to observe demonstrations, experiments, and laboratory exercises in the basic sciences. They must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand. Medical students must be capable of viewing and interpreting diagnostic modalities and to detect and interpret non-verbal communication from the patient.
  • Communication: Candidates and students must be able to communicate verbally with patients and colleagues. They should be able to hear the history of a patient and respond to the patient verbally. Candidates and students must be able to read and write in standard format and must be able to interact with computers in rendering patient care. Candidates and students must be proficient in English in order to be able to prepare a legible patient workup and present the workup orally in a focused manner to other health care professionals. Candidates and students must be able to communicate effectively with patients and family members and elicit a clinical history.
  • Motor:  Candidates and students must have sufficient motor function so that they are able to execute movements reasonably required to take a history and to perform a physical examination, including the ability to inspect various physical signs and recognize normal versus abnormal findings. They must be able to elicit information from patients using the techniques of palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. They must be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients in accordance with currently acceptable medical practice. Candidates and students must be able to utilize gross and fine manual palpation, touch, vibratory sensation, and temperature sensation in describing and evaluating various body parts.
  • Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: Candidates and students must possess a range of skills that allows mastery of the complex body of knowledge that comprises a medical education. Candidates and students must be able to recall large amounts of information, perform scientific measurements and calculations, and understand and cognitively manipulate three-dimensional models. Candidates and students must be able to learn effectively through a variety of modalities including but not limited to: classroom instruction, small group discussion, individual study of materials, preparation and presentation of written and oral reports, and use of computer-based technology. Candidates and students must exhibit reasoning abilities sufficient to analyze and synthesize information from a wide variety of sources. The ultimate goal of the student will be to render patient care by solving difficult problems and making diagnostic and therapeutic decisions in a timely fashion.
  • Attitudinal, Behavioral, Interpersonal, and Emotional Attributes: Because the medical profession is governed by generally accepted ethical principles and by state and federal laws, candidates and students must have the capacity to learn and understand these values and laws and to perform within their guidelines. Medical students must be able to relate to patients as well as staff and colleagues, with honesty integrity, non-discrimination, self-sacrifice, and dedication. Medical students must be able to develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. Medical students must be able to identify personal reactions and responses, recognize multiple points of view, and integrate these appropriately into clinical decision-making. Medical students must be able to communicate and care for, in a non-judgmental way, persons whose culture, sexual orientation, or spiritual beliefs are different from their own. Candidates and students must be able to examine the entire patient, male or female, regardless of the social, cultural, or religious beliefs of the candidate or student.

Candidates and students must be of sufficient emotional and mental health to utilize fully 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. Candidates and students must be able to modify their behavior in response to constructive criticism. They must be capable of being non-judgmental when caring for a patient and not let their own personal attitudes, perceptions, and stereotypes compromise care of the patient.

In evaluating applicants for admission and in preparing 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 reasonable accommodation can be made for certain disabilities on the part of the student or candidate, those candidates and students who are disabled will be held to the same fundamental standards as their non-disabled peers.

The Creighton University School of Medicine will consider for admission any candidate who demonstrates the ability to perform the skills and abilities specified in these technical standards with or without reasonable accommodation consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Candidates for the M.D. degree will be assessed on a regular basis according to the Academic Standards and the Technical Standards of the School of Medicine on their abilities to meet the requirements of the curriculum.

Office of the General Counsel
Medical Education Management Team
Committee on Educational Policy and Curriculum
Executive Operating Committee
Dean, School of Medicine

[1] Creighton University Bulletin, 2008-2010 Issue, School of Medicine, Vol. 92, No. 2, July 2008, p 16.