Technical Standards

It is essential that all M.D. graduates of the Boston University School of Medicine have a predictable level of competence across the range of knowledge and skills generally expected of physicians. This allows patients, residency program directors, licensing and credentialing authorities, specialty boards, and other interested parties to rely on these competencies when interacting with our graduates. In addition, it is a primary educational objective of BUSM that all students will have a broad-based educational foundation that will prepare them to pursue post-graduate training in any current discipline or specialty of medicine.

The faculty, therefore, expect that all students will demonstrate proficiency, with or without reasonable accommodation, in all degree requirements. All students are expected to carry out the tasks, both intellectual and physical, of the foundational science and clinical curricula either without accommodations or only with those accommodations that are reasonable and appropriate in the range of settings and circumstances in which our educational program is based.

The following technical standards have been formally adopted by the Boston University School of Medicine. 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. The use of a human intermediary to attain these competencies means that a student’s judgment is guided by another person’s powers of observation and interpretation. Students are, therefore, not permitted to use such intermediaries in meeting the technical standards of BUSM.


Students must be able to observe and participate in those demonstrations and experiments in the foundational science curriculum deemed essential by the faculty. They must also be able to accurately observe a patient and the surrounding environment, both at a distance and close at hand, noting nonverbal, as well as verbal signals. Such observation necessitates the functional use of sensory modalities including vision, hearing and sense of smell.


Students must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients and their families, as well as with all members of the health care team in a variety of different settings. Communication includes speaking, reading, writing, and perceiving nonverbal communication. Students must communicate effectively and efficiently in both oral and written English. They must hear, comprehend, and speak intelligibly so as to accurately elicit, assess, transmit and record information regarding all features of a patient’s physical and emotional status. They must possess reading skills at a level sufficient to accomplish, in a timely manner, all administrative requirements, as well as to meet the performance expectations of the faculty in all areas of the curriculum.

Sensory and Motor Coordination and Function

Students must possess motor and sensory capacity to perform activities necessary for the completion of the foundational science curriculum, as well as for the provision of routine and emergent patient care. Such actions require coordination of gross and fine movements, equilibrium, strength and endurance, and functional use of the senses. Students may be called upon to perform such actions rapidly and under challenging circumstances.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities

Students must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, and synthesize. It is also essential that student have the ability to absorb and process new information from patients, peers, teachers, supervisors, and from scientific literature, in the support of critical thinking, clinical reasoning, and problem solving.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Students must have the capacity to develop empathic, respectful, and effective relationships. They must be able to use their intellectual capacity, to exercise sound judgment, and to complete all academic and clinical responsibilities in a timely and professional manner, even under stressful circumstances. They must be able to adapt to changing environments and to learn in the face of the uncertainties inherent in the practice of medicine. Compassion, integrity, high ethical standards, cultural sensitivity, as well as strong interpersonal skills and motivation are vital to the successful completion of the M.D. program.

January 2017