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Technical Standards

In response to the evolving situation with COVID-19, Tufts University of Medicine has provided these adjustments and guidelines regarding prerequisite requirements.


The Technical Standards of the Tufts School of Medicine define the essential functions that an applicant or medical student must be able to perform in order to be admitted to Tufts, to progress satisfactorily through our program of study, and to graduate. Essential functions refer to all non-academic criteria that are necessary to participate in the educational program. In developing these criteria, the medical school and its faculty affirm the following expectations of our graduates:

The awarding of the MD degree certifies that the individual possesses a broad base of knowledge and skills requisite for the practice of medicine. The medical education process must prepare the individual to be a generalist physician, not a specialist. As such, every student must complete all aspects of the required curriculum as determined by the faculty. The Tufts graduate must have the ability to function in a variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. The acquisition of scientific knowledge must be accompanied by the development of basic intellectual attitudes, ethical professional attitudes and behaviors, and moral principles that are essential for a responsible physician to possess.

The following five skills and abilities are considered essential for fulfillment of the MD degree:

  1. Observation: The candidate must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences. A candidate must be able to observe a patient accurately. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision and somatic sensation. It is enhanced by the functional use of the sense of hearing and of smell.
  2. Communication: A candidate should be able to speak, to hear and to observe patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients, families, peers, and faculty. Communication includes not only speech, but also reading and writing. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the health care team.
  3. Motor: Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate should be able to execute motor activities reasonably required to provide general care, to perform diagnostic procedures and to provide emergency treatment to patients.
  4. Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Problem solving, a critical skill demanded of physicians, requires all of these intellectual abilities. Candidates and students must be able independently to access and interpret medical histories or files, identify significant findings from history, physical examination, and laboratory data, provide a reasoned explanation for likely diagnoses, and prescribed medications and therapy, and recall and retain information in an efficient and timely manner. The ability to incorporate new information from peers, teachers, and the medical literature in formulating diagnoses and plans is essential. Good judgment in patient assessment, diagnostic and therapeutic planning is crucial; students must be able to identify and communicate their knowledge to others when appropriate.
  5. Behavioral and Social Attributes: A candidate must possess the mental and emotional health required for full utilization of his/her 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. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. They must be able to learn the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that should be assessed during the admissions and education process.

The skills and abilities listed above are considered the minimum required in the educational process of a physician.  Each person will be evaluated on an individual basis. Tufts University School of Medicine reaffirms its commitment to be flexible, innovative, and creative in trying to meet the special needs of students.

* Adapted from the Report of the Special Advisory Panel on Technical Standards for Medical School Admission, AAMC 1979.