Duke University School of Medicine Health Professional Technical Standards

The study of medical sciences is not a pure intellectual exercise. Candidates for all degree programs within the School of Medicine (SOM) must possess the ability to learn, integrate, analyze, and synthesize data. This document is a general guidance document; individual programs may have more rigorous motor, sensory, or other requirements in their individual technical standards. In general, students should have certain minimum physical, emotional, cognitive and social capacities to complete all requirements of their individual school either directly or through reasonable accommodations.

Students must possess all of the abilities described in the five categories below, with or without reasonable accommodations as determined by the Student Disability Access Office (https://access.duke.edu/students/). Fulfillment of the technical standards of an individual program with reasonable accommodation does not guarantee a graduate of the program will be able to fulfill the technical standards for employment, residency or certifying board. Candidates with disabilities are encouraged to contact the program and/or the Student Disability Access Office early in the application process to discuss accommodation needs. 

Candidate must acquire information as presented through demonstrations and experiences in lectures and laboratories. Candidates must be able to evaluate patients accurately and assess their relevant health, behavioral, and medical information. Candidates must be able to obtain and interpret information through a comprehensive assessment of patients, correctly interpret clinical data, accurately evaluate patients’ conditions and responses, as well as develop a diagnostic and treatment plan. Vision, hearing and touch or the functional equivalent is required.

Candidates must exhibit interpersonal skills to enable effective caregiving of patients, including the ability to communicate effectively and sensitively in English, with all members of a multidisciplinary health care team, patients, and those supporting patients, in person and in writing.  Candidates must be able to clearly and accurately record information and accurately interpret verbal and nonverbal communications.

Candidates must have adequate physical endurance, motor function and sensory ability to be able to provide and/or direct the provision of general care and emergency treatment to patients performance of routine physical examination and diagnostic maneuvers performance of treatment maneuvers, which may include lifting, transferring of patients, and assisting during ambulation while assuring their own safety as well as the safety of the patient elicitation of information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and movement of limbs.

Candidates must meet applicable relevant safety standards for the environment and follow universal precaution procedures.

Candidates must effectively interpret, assimilate, and understand the complex information required to function within the health professional programs of the SOM. Problem solving is a critical skill that requires conceptual integrative, and quantitative thinking abilities. The candidates must also be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships, the spatial and functional relationships of structures and to analyze and apply this information for problem solving and decision-making. Candidates must be able to effectively participate in educational activities either online or in person in individual and small groups in all learning environments. They must have the ability to organize, prioritize, analyze and evaluate detailed and complex information individually, in small groups, in clinical setting and within a limited time frame both in person and via remote technology. Candidates must be able to learn, participate, collaborate, and contribute as part of a team. 

Candidates must exercise good judgement and promptly complete all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients.  A candidate must have the emotional health to fully use their intellectual ability, exercise good judgement, and to complete all responsibilities attendant to the evaluation and treatment of patients.  They must be honest, able to self-assess own mistakes, respond constructively to feedback and assume responsibility for maintaining professional behavior.  The skills required include the ability to effectively handle and manage heavy workloads, function-effectively under stress, adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of the uncertainties inherent in the practice of their profession.

A candidate must be able to develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with faculty, patients, families, caregivers and colleagues. A candidate must be able to tolerate physical and emotional stress, maintain alertness and wakefulness,  and continue to function effectively. They must have a high level of compassion for others, motivation to serve and integrity. They must behave in an ethical and moral manner consistent with professional values and standards. A candidate must possess sufficient interpersonal skills to interact positively and sensitively with all people.

Candidates must be able to satisfy the above requirements with or without reasonable accommodations. For questions about reasonable accommodations, see the Duke Accessibility website.