Technical Standards/ Disability Services

Introduction

Candidates and students for the M.D. degree at the University of Florida College of Medicine (UF COM) must be capable of completing core educational requirements and achieving the UF COM competencies and entrustable professional activities essential for the delivery of high quality medical care. The College of Medicine has an ethical responsibility for the safety of patients with whom students and graduates will come in contact.

Although students learn and work under the supervision of the faculty, students interact with patients throughout their medical school education. Patient safety and well-being are therefore major factors in establishing requirements involving the physical, intellectual, and emotional abilities of candidates for admission, promotion, and graduation. The essential skills and abilities described herein are also referred to as technical (or non-academic) standards. 

The goal of the medical education program is to graduate physicians who possess high ethical and professional attributes, deep and thorough medical knowledge and outstanding clinical skills, with the ability to appropriately apply these skills, effectively interpret information, and contribute to decisions across a broad spectrum of medical situations in varied settings. Therefore, all students are expected to meet the standards described below for admission, retention, promotion, and graduation.

TECHNICAL STANDARDS

Observation

Candidates and students must be able to acquire information from demonstrations and participate in laboratory exercises. One must be able to assess and comprehend the condition of all patients assigned to the student for examination, diagnosis, and treatment. These skills require the use of vision, hearing, and touch or the functional equivalent.

Communication

Candidates and students must demonstrate proficiency in the English language such that one can communicate in both oral and written form effectively and sensitively with patients and members of the health care team. This includes the ability to speak, to hear and to observe patients by sight in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. In a case where an individual’s ability to communicate is compromised, one must demonstrate alternative means and/or abilities to communicate with patients and members of the health care teams.

Motor

Candidates and students must be able to attend and participate in required classes and activities within the curriculum. An individual’s  motor and sensory functions must be sufficient to diagnose and deliver patient care consistently, quickly and accurately. Individuals must be able to perform physical exams and diagnostic procedures using techniques, such as: palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. Individuals must be able to respond in a timely manner and safely execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatments to patients. Individuals must be able to participate in physically taxing duties over long hours.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities

Candidates and students must have sufficient cognitive abilities and effective learning strategies to assimilate the detailed and complex information presented in the medical school curriculum. Individuals must be able to learn through a variety of modalities, such as: class instruction, small group, team, and collaborative activities, and independent study. Individuals must have the ability to learn, memorize, measure, calculate, reason, organize, analyze, and synthesize complex information in a coherent manner. Individuals must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures. Individuals must be able to formulate a hypothesis, investigate the potential answers and outcomes, and formulate appropriate and accurate conclusions in a timely manner.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Candidates and students must demonstrate the maturity and emotional stability required for full utilization of one’s intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and the timely completion of all responsibilities attendant to an individual’s academic work, team work, and patient care. Individuals must demonstrate the ability to develop mature, sensitive, and effective professional relationships with faculty members and peers, patients, and all members of the healthcare team. Individuals must be able to function effectively under stress and proactively make use of available resources to help maintain both physical and mental health. Individuals must be able to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the educational and patient care setting. Professionalism, compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation are expected throughout the education process. One must be willing to interview, physically examine, and provide care to all patients regardless of their race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.

Equal Access to the UF COM Medical Education Program

The UF COM is committed to providing all students with opportunities to take full advantage of the medical education program. It recognizes that students with documented disabilities may require reasonable accommodations to meet the technical standards described above. During the admissions process, candidates with a disability are encouraged to discuss their disability with the Assistant Dean of Admissions so that jointly, they may consider technological and other facilitating mechanisms necessary to train and function effectively as a physician. Upon admission, the Office for Medical Education, the Office of Student Affairs and the UF Disability Resource Center (DRC) are committed to removing potential barriers that may prevent a student from accurately reflecting their abilities in the medical education program. The goal of the multi-perspective approach described below is to support medical students with disabilities in order to provide reasonable and accessible opportunities to complete the medical education program.

Requesting Disability/Medical Accommodations

  • The University encourages students to register with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) prior to the beginning of medical school or upon the verification of a disability for medical condition. A student must comply with the following process for requesting and receiving appropriate reasonable accommodations, in a timely manner, to enable the student to have the opportunity to meet the UF COM requirements for completion of the medical education program.
  • To meet UF COM technical standards, it is the student’s responsibility to self-disclose the disability or medical condition that require accommodations and provide requested documentation to the Disability Resource Center. A student who fails to register with DRC or who fails to provide the necessary documentation shall not be considered to be claiming or receiving accommodations under federal or state disability laws. A student is encouraged to register with the DRC prior to the beginning of the student’s first or subsequent semester or as soon as a disability/medical condition is established in order to ensure access to appropriate accommodations. Students are accountable for their performance, with or without accommodation. No student will be assumed to have a disability/medical condition based on poor performance.
  • Any request, design and implementation of accommodations for an individual student to participate and complete the medical education program must include full collaboration with the Office of Student Affairs and the Disability Resource Center, as well as being in synch with the UF COM Technical Standards.
  • In review of a student’s accommodation request, the DRC will make every effort to recommend the appropriate accommodation for academic success. Upon receipt of a student’s request for accommodations, the UF COM will convene the ad hoc UF COM Technical Standards Committee. The Technical Standards Committee is responsible for reviewing requests for accommodations in light of the UF COM Technical Standards and appropriate course standards and learning objectives. Membership consists of the Assistant Dean of Admissions, Associate Dean for Medical Education, Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, and the UF COM Learning Specialist. 
  • Following review by the DRC/Technical Standards Committee, the implementation of accommodations for year students will be facilitated by the UF COM Office of Student Affairs. The Office of Student Affairs will notify course/clerkship directors of requested accommodations in writing, e.g., student’s DRC accommodation letter.
  • An accommodation may be deemed unreasonable if it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of the student, patients or others, causes a fundamental alteration of the medical education program, does not meet UF COM academic or technical standards, or poses an undue hardship on the College of Medicine. In review of a student’s request, the committee will work in concert with the DRC, requesting additional assessment or evaluation, as needed, and providing a determination of the review to the DRC.
  • Accommodation through the use of a trained intermediary or other aid may be appropriate or reasonable if the intermediary or aid functions as an information conduit. The intermediary or aid may not provide a selective function, cognitive support, or medical knowledge or act as a substitute in performing essential skills or supplement clinical and ethical judgement.
  • Should, despite reasonable accommodation (whether the student chooses to use the accommodation or not), a student’s existing or acquired disability interfere with the safety of others, or otherwise impede the ability to complete the UF COM medical education program and advance to graduation, residency, training, or licensure, the candidate/student may be denied admission or may be separated, discontinued, or dismissed from the program.
  • While the Office of Student Affairs works in consultation with the DRC to determine and coordinate approved accommodations, disability documentation remains confidential and housed at the DRC.
  • Students may petition for retroactive medical withdrawal from courses: https://care.dso.ufl.edu/submit-medical-petition/.