Technical Standards

The definition of Technical Standards are the personal attributes and capabilities essential for admission, promotion, and graduation of UNC-CH medical students.

The University of North Carolina School of Medicine believes that earning a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree requires mastery of a coherent body of knowledge and skills. A medical student must acquire substantial competence in the principles and facts of all of the curriculum's required basic sciences, must understand and appreciate the principles and practice of all of the basic fields of clinical medicine and must be able to relate appropriately to patients and to other health care professionals. The following technical standards describe the non-academic qualifications required in addition to academic achievements which the school considers essential for successful completion of the Educational Objectives of its Curriculum.

Attitudinal, Behavioral, Interpersonal, and Emotional Attributes

Because the medical profession is governed by ethical principles and by state and federal laws, a medical student must have the capacity to learn, and understand these values and laws and to perform within their guidelines. S/he should be able to relate to colleagues, staff and patients with honesty, integrity, non-discrimination, self-sacrifice and dedication. S/he should be able to understand and use the power, special privileges, and trust inherent in the physician-patient relationship for the patient's benefit, and to know and avoid the behaviors that constitute misuse of this power. S/he should demonstrate the capacity to examine and deliberate effectively about the social and ethical questions that define medicine and physicians' roles and to reason critically about these questions. S/he must be able to identify personal reactions and responses, recognize multiple points of view, and integrate these appropriately into clinical decision making.

A medical student must be of sufficient emotional health to utilize fully his/her intellectual ability, to exercise good judgment, to complete patient care responsibilities promptly, and to relate to patients, families, and colleagues with courtesy, compassion, maturity, and respect for their dignity. The ability to participate collaboratively and flexibly as a professional team member is essential. The medical student must display this emotional health in spite of stressful work, changing environments, and clinical uncertainties. The medical student must be able to modify behavior in response to constructive criticism. S/he must be open to examining personal attitudes, perceptions, and stereotypes (which may negatively affect patient care and professional relationships). An individual with a diagnosed psychiatric disorder may function as a medical student as long as the condition is under sufficient control to allow accomplishment of the above goals with or without reasonable accommodation. S/he must exhibit behavior and intellectual functioning which does not differ from acceptable standards. In the event of deteriorating emotional function, it is essential that a medical student be willing to acknowledge the disability and/or accept professional help before the condition poses danger to self, patients, and/or colleagues.


The study and ongoing practice of medicine often involves taxing workloads and stressful situations. A medical student must have the physical and emotional stamina to maintain a high level of function in the face of these likely working conditions.

Intellectual Skills

A medical student must possess a range of intellectual skills that allows him/her to master the broad and complex body of knowledge that comprises a medical education. The student's learning style must be effective and efficient. The ultimate goal will be to solve difficult problems and to make diagnostic and therapeutic decisions. A medical student must be able to memorize, perform scientific measurement and calculation, and understand and cognitively manipulate three dimensional models.

Reasoning abilities must be sophisticated enough to analyze and synthesize information from a wide variety of sources. It is expected that a medical student be able to learn effectively through a variety of modalities including, but not limited to: classroom instruction, small group discussion, individual study of materials, preparation and presentation of written and oral reports, and use of computer based technology.

Communication Skills

A medical student must be able to ask questions, to receive answers perceptively, to record information about patients and to educate patients. S/he must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with patients, their families, and with other members of the health care team. This must include spoken communications and non-verbal communications such as interpretation of facial expressions, affects and body language. Mastery of both written and spoken English is required although applications from students with hearing and speech disabilities will be given full consideration. In such cases, use of a trained intermediary or other communications aide may be appropriate if this intermediary functions only as an information conduit and does not serve integrative or interpretive functions.

Visual, Auditory, Tactile and Motor Competencies

A medical student must possess sufficient visual, auditory, tactile and motor abilities to allow him/her to gather data from written reference material, from oral presentations, by observing demonstrations and experiments, by studying various types of medical illustrations, by observing a patient and his/her environment, by observing clinical procedures performed by others, by reading digital or analog representations of physiologic phenomena, and by performing a basic physical examination of a patient.