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Technical Standards

The faculty of The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences consider it essential for all medical graduates to have the knowledge and skill to function in a variety of clinical situations and to provide a wide spectrum of patient care as required by the curriculum. Therefore, every medical student must master a common body of basic science knowledge and master the principles, knowledge, and procedures of the core required disciplines. This requires that every student have sufficient capacities and abilities in:

  • Communication
  • Observation
  • Motor/tactile function
  • Emotions/Intellect

The M.D. degree is, thus, an undifferentiated degree requiring that each student independently demonstrate these capabilities. Surrogates cannot be used to accomplish the essential requirements. Students may not have undue dependence on technology or trained intermediaries.

Communication includes the ability to speak, hear, read, and write sufficiently to achieve adequate exchange of information with other health care professionals and patients and their support network.

Observation includes the ability to perceive, using senses and mental abilities, the presentation of information through lectures, small groups, and one-to-one interactions, and written and audiovisual materials. Students must be able to directly observe a patient's medical condition. Other examples of use of perceptual abilities include, but are not limited to: gross and microscopic studies of organisms, cadaver dissections, and various diagnostic studies (including, but not limited to: interpreting electrocardiograms, chest x-rays, mental status examinations, and auscultatory findings).

Motor function includes the ability to perform physical examinations, basic laboratory, diagnostic, and therapeutic procedures. These procedures include, but are not limited to: urinalysis, airway management, insertion of nasogastric tubes and urinary catheters, pelvic and rectal examinations, obstetrical maneuvers, suturing, venipuncture, and arterial blood draws.

Emotional and higher-level intellectual abilities must be demonstrated. These include aptitude for rapid problem solving; rational thought; visual-spatial comprehension; understanding, synthesizing and recalling materials; interpreting results of patient interactions, examinations and procedures; and ability to formulate diagnostic and treatment plans. Students must have the ability for sound judgment and be able to function under physically taxing and stressful situations such as overnight call and lengthy working hours.

Reasonable accommodations will be made for applicants with disabilities who can meet the requirements noted above. These accommodations must be accomplished without altering the essential requirements of our medical education. These accommodations must be accomplished without altering the essential requirements of our medical education. Any student requesting an accommodation should contact Disability Student Services at 202 994 8259. If DSS determines an accommodation is appropriate they will notify Student Affairs in the SMHS

Approved by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, November 21, 2006
Approved by the Medical Center Faculty Senate, May 2, 2007
Reviewed by Associate Dean and Asst. Dean of Admissions, April 1, 2014
Executive Committee of the SMHS Faculty Assembly, August 27, 2015
Reviewed by Senior Associate Dean for MD Programs and Associate Dean of Admissions, September 2017

Amended: Approved by Faculty Senate Executive Committee, Reviewed by Associate Dean for MD Admissions, February 2023