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Technical Standards


UW School of Medicine and Public Health Admissions

(608) 263-4925

The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison has established technical standards for admission to the MD Program.


Introduction | Standards | Implementation




Conferral of a medical degree certifies that the recipient has demonstrated all the requisite abilities to become a practicing generalist physician. This demonstration encompasses a variety of attributes critical to the provision of quality medical care, including the physical, cognitive and emotional strengths necessary to complete the rigorous requirements of the medical school curriculum, and the social and behavioral skills expected of a competent care-giver.


Admission to the UW School of Medicine and Public Health MD Program reflects the judgment of the Admissions Committee that the admitted applicant possesses these attributes. The committee's judgment is based primarily on each applicant's previous academic and personal experience.


In some cases, where the presence or function of a critical attribute is affected by an applicant's disability, additional consideration is given to whether, through reasonable accommodation, adequate and reliable function can be secured. In the exceptional case, where either reasonable accommodation cannot be provided or adequate assurance of function obtained, admission may be denied or rescinded.


Accommodation decisions are the responsibility of the technical standards committee. Regarding applicants and admitted students who have not yet matriculated, but who have disclosed a disability and/or requested accommodation, the technical standards committee independently evaluates the necessity for and practicality of any accommodation; the committee then advises the student and the admissions committee of its findings.


The Admissions Committee makes the final decision regarding the applicant's admission status whenever the technical standards committee advises that reasonable accommodation cannot be provided.


Issues of accommodation arise not only at the point of admission and/or matriculation. A need for reasonable accommodation may arise during a student's enrollment in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. The technical standards committee again is responsible for evaluating the necessity for and practicality of any accommodation for an enrolled student; the committee then advises the student and the student promotion committee of its findings. The student promotion committee makes the final decision regarding the student's enrollment status.


The UW School of Medicine and Public Health has constituted the Technical Standards Committee to assist applicants and students in a responsible way to respond to conditions that can impact adversely on their ability to participate fully in the medical education curriculum and, ultimately, to train for a career as a medical doctor.


Applicants and students are urged to contact the access and accommodation resource coordinator for advice or assistance. The coordinator is Brent Nelson, (608) 265-5030,




In order to perform adequately in UW School of Medicine and Public Health courses, students must, at a minimum, possess functional use of the somatic senses and adequate motor capabilities to manage situations in which these senses would be employed, and must be able to integrate data acquired via these senses. Reasonable accommodation may be made to enable performance at the required level.


The following entries are intended to provide applicants and students with a framework for understanding the personal attributes critical to satisfactory performance in medical education and, ultimately, to the practice of medicine, since decisions on admission and student promotion are made in reference to these attributes:


Observational skills: The functional ability to observe in the lecture hall, instructional and clinical laboratories, the clinic and the patient's bedside is required.


Communication skills: Students must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients, their families and all members of the health care team. Candidates must show evidence of effective written and verbal communication skills.


Motor function: The ability to participate in basic diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers and procedures (e.g., palpation, auscultation) is expected. However, the candidate who cannot perform these activities independently should be able to understand and direct the methodology involved in such activities.


Intellectual, conceptual, integrative, quantitative abilities: Candidates must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of physicians, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In order to complete the requirements for the MD degree, students must be able to demonstrate mastery of these skills and the ability to use them together in a timely fashion in medical problem solving and patient care.


Behavioral and social attributes: The technical standards committee must examine all available information regarding a candidate's behavioral and social attributes including compassion, empathy, altruism, integrity, ethics, responsibility, emotional stability and tolerance, and decide whether the candidate is suitable. 




The implementation of these standards is within the purview of the technical standards committee of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. It is the responsibility of the committee to determine the appropriate interpretation and application of the standards in individual cases. When a request for accommodation is received, the committee is charged with making decisions regarding each applicant's or student's ability to meet the standards.

Last updated: 06/24/2011
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