Technical Standards

The following technical standards have been formally adopted by the Boston University School of Medicine Committee on Admissions. A candidate for the MD degree must have abilities and skills in the areas of observation; communication; sensory and motor coordination and function; intellectual-conceptual, integrative, and quantitative abilities; and behavioral and social attributes as described below.


Candidates and students must be able to observe demonstrations and participate in experiments in the basic sciences determined essential by the faculty. They must be able to observe a patient accurately both at a distance and close at hand, noting nonverbal as well as verbal signals. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision and other sensory modalities.


Candidates and students should be able to speak intelligibly, hear sufficiently, and observe patients closely to elicit and transmit information; describe changes in mood, activity, and posture; and perceive nonverbal communication. They must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients and with all members of the health care team. Communication includes not only speech, but also reading and writing; students and candidates must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in both oral and written English, as well as possess reading skills at a level sufficient to accomplish curricular requirements and provide clinical care for patients. They must be capable of completing appropriate medical records, documents, and plans according to protocol, in a complete and timely manner.

Sensory and Motor Coordination and Function

Candidates and students are required to possess motor skills sufficient to perform palpation, percussion, auscultation, and other basic diagnostic procedures. They must be able to execute those motor movements reasonably required to provide basic medical care, such as airway management, placement of catheters, application of pressure to control bleeding, simple obstetrical maneuvers and the like. Such actions require coordination of gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.

Intellectual-conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities

These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of physicians, requires all of these intellectual abilities. Candidates and students must be able to identify significant findings from history, physical examination, and laboratory data; provide a reasoned explanation for likely diagnoses, prescribed medications, and therapy; and retain information and recall it in an efficient and timely manner. The ability to incorporate new information from peers, teachers, and medical literature in formulating diagnoses and plans is essential. Good judgment in patient assessment, diagnostic, and therapeutic planning is essential; students must be able to identify and communicate their knowledge to others when appropriate.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Candidates and students must possess the ability to use their intellectual capacity, exercise good judgment, and promptly complete all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients under potentially stressful circumstances. They must also be able to develop empathic, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. They must be able to adapt to changing environments and learn in the face of uncertainties inherent in the practice of medicine. Compassion, integrity, ethical standards, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation are all personal qualities that will be assessed during the admission and educational process.

Primary teaching affiliate
of BU School of Medicine