Technical Standards

Technical Standards, Essential Abilities and Characteristics Required for the Completion of the MD Degree

The mission of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (CWRU SOM) encompasses three core pillars: providing excellence in medical education through our unique and immersive curriculum, advancing discoveries from our laboratories to patients, and improving the health of our community.

CWRU SOM has every expectation that graduates will practice clinical medicine at the highest standard with compassion for patients, communities, and all members of the health professions. CWRU SOM graduates are expected to identify and solve fundamental questions in the promotion of health and wellbeing, including identifying the mechanisms, prevention, and treatment of disease.

Students of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine are selected on the basis of their academic, personal, and extracurricular dimensions with the goal of fulfilling our mission and meeting these expectations. Our school is unwavering in its commitment to diversity, inclusion, and the promotion of equity in health and healthcare delivery. CWRU SOM actively seeks and educates students who share this commitment.

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine’s medical doctor (MD) degree is a broad, undifferentiated degree attesting to the general knowledge of medicine and the essential skills required for its practice. The School of Medicine has a responsibility to train competent medical professionals and scientists who demonstrate compassion, critical judgment, extensive knowledge, and technical skills. Although students learn under the supervision of faculty, students interact with patients throughout their medical school education. Patient safety and well- being are therefore critical factors in establishing requirements involving the physical, cognitive, and emotional abilities of candidates for admission, promotion, and graduation. The necessary abilities and characteristics described below are also referred to as technical standards. They are defined in several broad categories including observation, communication, motor function, intellectual-conceptual, integrative, quantitative abilities, social and behavioral skills, and legal and ethical standards.

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine will consider for admission any applicant who meets its academic and nonacademic criteria and who demonstrates the ability to perform the skills outlined in this document, with or without reasonable accommodations (including the use of assistive technology), consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. Candidates and current students who have questions regarding the technical standards, or who believe they may need to request reasonable accommodation(s) in order to meet the standards, are encouraged to contact CWRU’s Office of Disability Resources (“Disability Resources”).

The stated intention of a candidate to practice only specific areas of clinical medicine or to pursue a non-clinical career does not alter the School of Medicine’s requirement that all medical students achieve competence in the full curriculum required by CWRU SOM. All candidates must adhere to universal precaution measures and meet safety standards applicable to medical settings, and other professional activities.

Definition of technical standards is required for the accreditation of U.S. medical schools by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). The following abilities and characteristics are defined as technical standards, which must be met (with or without reasonable accommodations, including the use of assistive technology) and are requirements for admission, retention, promotion, and graduation.

Technical Standards
  • Observation: Candidates must be able to obtain information and actively participate in demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences. Activities include but are not limited to the use of specialized technology such as Extended Reality (XR) and touch-controlled digital tablets, cadaveric dissections, and examination of laboratory specimens. These skills necessitate functional equivalents of vision, hearing, and touch.
  • Communication: Candidates must effectively, sensitively, and efficiently communicate verbally and non-verbally with patients, their communities of care, healthcare professionals, faculty, peers, and staff. They must be able to accurately and clearly elicit, record, convey, and clarify information. Candidates must also be able to establish rapport, develop
    therapeutic relationships, and demonstrate the ability to meet all CWRU SOM competencies required for graduation.
  • Examination, Procedural, and Diagnostic Skills: Candidates, after appropriate training, must possess the capacity to perform physical examinations, essential medical procedures, and diagnostic evaluations. They are required to appropriately respond to clinical situations while providing general and emergency care in a manner commensurate with their level of training.
  • Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities: Candidates must be able to assimilate detailed and complex information presented in both didactic and clinical coursework. The candidate must be able to learn through a variety of methods including, but not limited to, classroom instruction, small group settings, problem-based learning groups, team and collaborative activities, individual study, preparation and presentation of reports, simulations, coaching, personal reflection, and using technology. Candidates are expected to possess the ability to measure, calculate, memorize, reason, analyze, synthesize, problem-solve, and transmit information effectively (both in person and via remote technology). In addition, students must be able to comprehend three dimensional and spatial relationships of anatomical structures, interpret causal connections and make accurate, fact- based conclusions based on available data and information. Students must be able to formulate a hypothesis, investigate the potential answers and outcomes and come to appropriate and accurate conclusions. Students must also be able to utilize essential technology (hardware and software), medical equipment, and devices after appropriate instruction.
  • Behavioral, Social, Ethical, Legal, and Professional Abilities: Candidates must exhibit the emotional health required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, which includes, but is not limited to, the exercise of good judgment, and the prompt completion of responsibilities associated with the diagnosis and care of patients. Candidates are expected to exhibit integrity, honesty, professionalism, compassion, and display a spirit of cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork. The candidate is expected to understand the legal and ethical aspects of the practice of medicine and function within the law and ethical standards of the medical profession. Candidates must interact with patients and their families, health care professionals, colleagues, faculty, and staff in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner. The candidate accepts responsibility for learning and exercising good judgment. Candidates are expected to contribute to collaborative, constructive learning environments; accept constructive feedback from others; and take personal responsibility for making appropriate positive changes. Candidates must possess the physical and emotional endurance to tolerate physically demanding workloads and function in a competent and professional manner in high stress, fast-paced situations, adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and manage the uncertainty intrinsic in the care of patients and the health care system.
Equal Access to the School of Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine Educational Program

Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine is committed to providing all students with opportunities to take full advantage of the educational and academic programs. The School of Medicine recognizes that students with documented disabilities may require reasonable accommodations in order to achieve this objective and/or meet the technical standards.

It is the responsibility of a candidate with a disability, or a candidate who develops a disability, who requires accommodations in order to meet these technical standards, to self-disclose to Disability Resources and request accommodations. Candidates must provide documentation of the disability and the specific functional limitations to Disability Resources. Candidates who fail to register with Disability Resources or who fail to provide the necessary documentation to Disability Resources shall not be considered to be claiming the need for, or receiving, accommodations under the federal or state disability laws. Students are held to their performance, with or without accommodation. No candidate will be assumed to have a disability based on inadequate performance alone. Accommodations are not applied retroactively, and a disability-related explanation will not negate an unsatisfactory performance.

Requesting Disability Accommodations

Candidates are not obligated to self-disclose their disability to Disability Resources, other staff members, or faculty. However, students with disabilities who wish to obtain accommodations, auxiliary aids and/or services, must self-disclose their disability and direct their request(s) for accommodation(s) to the office of Disability Resources.

Disability Resources
Location: Sears Building, Room 402 Phone: 216.368.5230
For more information: 

In order to proceed with a determination of eligibility for services and the provision of applicable and reasonable accommodations, students must disclose their disability by registering with Disability Resources through their webpage (“Getting Started”). Students are required to complete the “New Student Application” through the Accessibility Information Management (AIM) system. Once the application is complete, students must upload, email, or mail documentation of their disability to the office of Disability Resources.

While students can disclose a disability and request an accommodation at any time during their enrollment, students are encouraged to disclose the need for accommodation(s) as soon as possible. Time for documentation review and arrangement of accommodation(s) is necessary, and may take four to six weeks. Accommodations are not retroactive.

Temporary Disabilities (Illness & Injury)

Students should be aware that the University is not obligated to provide accommodations for students with temporary disabilities, illnesses, or injuries, but will attempt to do so when feasible.

As a courtesy, Disability Resources will attempt to provide services to students who experience acute illness or injury that will allow them to access the physical campus as well as the academic curriculum.

If the injury or illness necessitates handicapped parking accessibility, and/or campus transportation services, the student should contact Disability Resources for assistance.

Ability to Meet the School of Medicine’s Technical Standards

All candidates for the School of Medicine will be required to complete a Technical Standards Attestation form on a yearly basis. If at any point an enrolled candidate ceases to meet the technical standards of the School of Medicine, they must notify Disability Resources, who will determine what accommodations are reasonable.

If, after all reasonable accommodations are made, there is concern that the student remains unable to meet the technical standards, the student will be referred to the Committee on Students, who will review the student’s performance. It is the responsibility of the Committee to determine whether a student can or cannot meet the described standards after reasonable accommodations have been made. The Committee on Students will determine any necessary actions on a case-by-case basis.