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Technical Standards & Expectations

Technical Standards Policy

The Medical School's technical standards policy is available in our Student Handbook.

All applicants accepted to the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry must be able to meet the School’s technical standards. Students are required to review the standards and to sign a form certifying they have read, understand, and are able to meet the standards with or without reasonable accommodations.

The School of Medicine is prepared to provide reasonable accommodations to students who are accepted by the School and who have physical and learning disabilities (e.g., mobility impairments, chronic illnesses, dyslexia, and other learning disabilities). The University will review the information in order to determine whether a reasonable accommodation can be made. The University reserves the right to reject any requests for accommodation, that in its judgment, would involve the use of an intermediary that would in effect require a student to rely on someone else’s power of selection, detection and observation, fundamentally alter the nature of the School’s educational program, lower academic standards, cause an undue hardship on the School, or endanger the safety of patients or others.

If you require the use of a service animal, please carefully review the University of Rochester Policy on the Use of Assistance Animals.

Technical Standards

Patient safety and wellbeing are critical factors in establishing requirements involving the physical, cognitive, and interpersonal abilities of candidates for admission, promotion, and graduation. The necessary abilities and characteristics described below are also referred to as technical standards. They are defined in several broad categories including observation, communication, motor function, intellectual-conceptual, integrative, quantitative abilities, social and behavioral skills, ethics and professionalism.

The stated intention of a medical student to practice only specific areas of clinical medicine, or to pursue a non-clinical career, does not alter the School of Medicine’s requirement that all medical students achieve competence in the full curriculum required by the faculty.


Medical students must acquire information as presented through demonstrations and experiences in the foundational sciences. Medical students must be able to obtain and interpret information through a comprehensive assessment of patients, correctly interpret diagnostic representations of patients’ physiological data, and accurately evaluate patients’ conditions and responses.   These skills require the use or functional equivalent of vision, hearing, and touch.


Medical students must exhibit interpersonal skills to enable effective caregiving for patients, including the ability to communicate effectively, with all members of a multidisciplinary health-care team, patients, and those supporting patients. Medical students must be able to record information clearly, utilize electronic medical records and accurately interpret verbal and nonverbal communication.  Medical students must be able to communicate efficiently with other health care professionals and read and write effectively in English.

Motor Functions: 

Medical students must be able to perform physical examination and diagnostic maneuvers. Medical students must be able to provide general care and emergency treatment for patients, and to respond to emergency situations in a timely manner. Examples of emergency treatment reasonably required of physicians include but are not limited to cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the administration of intravenous medication, the application of pressure to stop bleeding, the opening of obstructed airways, the suturing of simple wounds and the performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers. These activities require sufficient physical mobility, coordination of both gross and fine motor neuromuscular functions, and balance and equilibrium. Medical students must be able to meet applicable safety standards for the environment, and to follow universal precaution procedures. 

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities:

Medical students must be able to effectively interpret, assimilate, understand, synthesize and communicate the complex information required to function within the medical school curriculum both in person and via remote technology, and engage in problem solving individually and in small groups. Medical students must demonstrate the ability to comprehend three-dimensional relationships.  Medical students must be able to adapt to different learning environments and modalities.

Behavioral and Social Attributes: 

Medical students must exercise good judgment; attend to the responsibilities necessary for the care of patients; and develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients and members of the healthcare team in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner. Medical students must be able to contribute to collaborative, constructive learning environments.  Medical students must demonstrate the skills and emotional stability required to effectively manage heavy workloads, function under stress, adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of the uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of patients. Medical students are expected to exhibit professionalism, personal accountability, compassion, integrity, concern for others, and interpersonal skills including the ability to accept and apply feedback and treat all individuals in a respectful manner, regardless of gender identity, age, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or any other protected status.  

Ethics and Professionalism:

Medical students must maintain and display ethical and moral behavior commensurate with the role of a physician in all interactions with patients, faculty, staff, students, and the public. Medical students must be honest, able to self-assess their mistakes, respond constructively to feedback and assume responsibility for maintaining professional behavior. Medical students should understand and function within the legal and ethical aspects of the practice of medicine. Candidates for admission must acknowledge and provide written explanation of any felony offense or disciplinary action taken against them prior to matriculation in the School of Medicine. In addition, should a student be convicted of any felony offense while in medical school, they agree to immediately notify the Associate Dean of Student Affairs as to the nature of the conviction. Failure to disclose prior or new offenses can lead to disciplinary action by the School of Medicine that may include dismissal.

The technical standards delineated above must be met with or without accommodation. The use of an intermediary that would in effect require a student to rely on someone else’s power of selection, detection, and observation will not be permitted with the exception of an American Sign Language interpreter. Students who, after review of the technical standards, want to request a reasonable accommodation to fully engage in the program should contact the Associate Dean of Student Affairs to confidentially discuss their disability and related accommodation needs. Given the clinical nature of our programs, time may be needed to create and implement the accommodations, so advance notice of accommodation needs, when practicable, is necessary.

Medical Student Honor Code

Candidates who accept offers of admission to the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry simultaneously agree to follow the terms of the Medical Student Honor Code.

Entering medical school is the beginning of the student’s life as a professional. Physicians and medical students should be altruistic and dedicated to providing competent medical service with compassion and respect for human dignity. Physicians have a responsibility to behave ethically at all times in their interactions with patients and patients’ families, colleagues, and others with whom they interact in their professional lives. The Medical Student Honor Code addresses specific expectations regarding medical student conduct.

The School of Medicine & Dentistry Honor Board is a group composed of students, residents, and faculty that work together to educate the community regarding ethics and professionalism in medicine, investigate and evaluate reports of potential violations of the Honor Code, and are available as consultants to develop curricula relating to professional conduct.

The Honor Code exists in conjunction with other University, School of Medicine & Dentistry, and regulatory policies. The Honor Code is not in lieu of, nor does it replace or supersede existing University, School of Medicine & Dentistry, and/or regulatory policies and procedures. In addition, the Medical Student Promotions and Review Board (MSPRB) retains the right to review professionalism, behavioral and other student cases directly, (independent of the Honor Code process) where health and safety concerns exist and in instances, determined by the MSPRB, to be egregious violations of the Medical School’s professionalism standards.

All applicants are encouraged to review the full Honor Code and Guidelines to prevent the mistreatment of students.

Expectations of Medical Students

View the Expectations of Medical Students Policy in the Student Handbook.

It is unethical for a student to refuse to participate in the care of a person based on that person’s race, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, age, sexual orientation and/or perceived lifestyle choices. It is also unethical to refuse to participate in the care of a patient solely because of medical risk, or perceived risk, to the student. It is not, however, unethical for the pregnant student to refuse to participate in activities that pose a significant risk to her fetus.

Essential components of the education requirements for University of Rochester medical students include: practicing under supervision, evaluating, counseling and referring assigned patients. Consequently, while students are required to evaluate, counsel, and refer all assigned patients, they retain the option, via the prevailing process, to opt out of select procedures in non-emergency settings due to conscientious objections. View the Opting Out Of Education Experiences Due to Conscientious Objection Policy in the Student Handbook.