Technical Standards

M.D. Program Technical Standards

The M.D. degree is a broad undifferentiated degree attesting to general knowledge in medicine and the basic skills required for the practice of medicine. Essential abilities and characteristics required for completion of the M.D. degree consist of certain minimum physical and cognitive abilities and sufficient mental and emotional stability to assure that candidates for admission, promotion and graduation are able to complete the entire course of study and participate fully in all aspects of medical training.

The Mercer University School of Medicine intends for its graduates to become competent and compassionate physicians who are capable of entering residency training (graduate medical education) and meeting all requirements for medical licensure. The avowed intention of an individual student to practice only a narrow part of clinical medicine, or to pursue a non-clinical career, does not alter the requirement that all medical students take and achieve competence in the full curriculum required by the faculty. Graduates of medical school must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. Since the treatment of patients is an essential part of the educational program, the School of Medicine must act to protect the health and safety of patients.

The Admissions Committee of the School of Medicine acknowledges Section 504 of the 1973 Vocational Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and asserts that the ability to meet certain essential technical standards with or without reasonable accommodations must be present in the prospective candidates. Disclosure of a disability is voluntary; however, applicants who want to request accommodations during the admissions process should, upon being accepted, contact the School of Medicine Office of Student Affairs.

All students must review the Technical Standards at the time of admission and at the beginning of each academic year.  The Technical Standard Student Review Acknowledgement form must be completed and submitted to the Office of Student Affairs.

Candidates for the M.D. degree must have aptitude, abilities, and skills in five areas:

  • Observation
  • Communication
  • Motor
  • Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative
  • Behavioral/Social

Technological compensation can be made for some disabilities in certain areas, but a candidate must be able to perform in an independent manner.

Candidates for the M.D. degree must have somatic sensation and the functional use of the senses of vision and other sensory modalities. Candidates’ diagnostic skills would be inadequate without the functional use of the senses of equilibrium and smell/taste. Additionally, they must have sufficient exteroceptive sense (touch, pain and temperature), sufficient proprioceptive sense (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis and vibratory) and sufficient motor function to permit them to carry out the activities described in the section below. They must be able to consistently, quickly and accurately integrate all information received by whichever senses employed, and they must have the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze and synthesize data.


Medical students must be able to observe demonstrations, experiments and personal encounters in the classroom, small group, large group and clinical settings. These experiences may include, but are not limited to, dissection of cadavers, physiologic and pharmacologic demonstrations, and microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states. A candidate must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand. Candidates must be able to accurately acquire information from patients and assess findings. They must be able to perform a complete physical examination in a timely fashion in order to integrate findings based on this information and to develop an appropriate diagnostic and treatment plan. These skills require the use of vision, hearing and touch, or the functional equivalent. In addition, medical students must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.


Medical students must be able to communicate and observe people in a variety of settings. In particular, students must be able to interact with patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. Medical students must be able to communicate effectively, sensitively and rapidly with peers, faculty, staff, members of the health care team and patients. They must be able to give and receive constructive feedback. Medical students must demonstrate the ability to process feedback and utilize it to conform their behavior to expected professional standards. Candidates and students must be able to read and write in standard format and must be able to interact with computers in rendering patient care. Candidates must be able to obtain a medical history in a timely fashion, interpret non-verbal aspects of communication and establish therapeutic relationships with patients. Candidates and students must be proficient in English in order to be able to prepare a legible patient workup and present the workup orally in a focused manner to other health care professionals.


Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers. By the completion of training, a candidate must have the ability to perform both a complete and an organ system-specific examination, including a mental status examination.  Additionally, candidates completing training  must have the ability to perform routine technical procedures, including but not limited to, venipuncture, inserting an intravenous catheter, arterial puncture, thoracentesis, lumbar puncture, inserting a nasogastric tube, inserting a Foley catheter and suturing lacerations. A candidate should be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Examples of emergency treatments include, but are not limited to, adult and pediatric cardiopulmonary resuscitation (including two-rescuer scenarios and use of the bag mask), the opening of obstructed airways, automated external defibrillation, the administration of intravenous medication, application of pressure to stop bleeding, and the performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers. Such actions require quick and immediate reaction. Coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and functional use of the senses of touch and vision are required.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative

Medical students must be able to integrate information received by whatever sense(s) employed. They must be able to problem-solve rapidly. This critical skill demanded of physicians requires the ability to learn, to reason, to integrate, to analyze and to synthesize data concurrently in a multi-task setting where there may be a high level of stress and distraction. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of physicians, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, the candidate should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures. Candidates and students must possess a range of skills that allows mastery of the complex body of knowledge that comprises a medical education. Candidates and students must be able to recall large amounts of information, perform scientific measurements and calculations, and understand and cognitively manipulate three-dimensional models. Candidates and students must be able to learn effectively through a variety of modalities, including but not limited to, classroom instruction, small group discussion, demonstration and observation of skills, individual and collaborative study of materials, preparation and presentation of written and oral reports, and use of computer-based technology. Candidates and students must exhibit reasoning abilities sufficient to analyze and synthesize information from a wide variety of sources. The ultimate goal of the student will be to render patient care by solving difficult problems and making diagnostic and therapeutic decisions in a timely fashion. Candidates must be fully alert and attentive at all times in clinical settings.


A candidate must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients and the care team. Medical students must demonstrate empathy and concern for others while respecting appropriate personal and professional boundaries. Medical students must demonstrate integrity as manifested by truthfulness, acceptance of responsibility for one’s actions, accountability for mistakes, and the ability to place the well-being of the patient above their own when necessary. They must be able to tolerate demanding workloads and to function effectively under stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the medical education and clinical practice settings. The candidate must be willing to interview, physically examine and provide care to all patients regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, culture, religion or sexual orientation.

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