Technical Standards

Qualified applicants to HWCOM must be able to complete all requirements leading to the MD degree. Because the MD degree signifies that the holder is a physician prepared for entry into the practice of medicine within a graduate training program, the recipient must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations, and to render a wide spectrum of patient care as required by the curriculum.

In addition to proven academic ability and other relevant personal characteristics, HWCOM students must possess and be able to demonstrate the skills, attributes, and qualities defined in the HWCOM Technical Standards, without undue dependence on technology or intermediaries to a degree that compromises independent judgment. The use of a trained intermediary is not acceptable in many clinical situations because that would require that a student’s judgment be mediated or interpreted by someone else’s power of selection and observation. Students with disabilities who may require an accommodation to meet technical standards are entitled to request a reasonable accommodation in accordance with HWCOM and FIU polices.


Candidates for the MD degree must be able to fully and promptly perform the essential functions in each of the following five categories:

  1. Observation. A candidate must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences including, but not limited to, physiological and pharmacological demonstrations in animals, microbiologic cultures, and microscope studies of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states. A candidate must be able to accurately observe a patient from a distance and at close range, obtain a medical history directly from the patient, and directly observe a patient’s medical condition. Observation necessitates the functional use of the senses of vision and sensation. It is enhanced by the functional use of the sense of smell.
  2. Communication. A candidate must be able to elicit information from patients, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. Communication includes not only speech, but reading and writing. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with health professionals, teachers, staff, and peers in settings where communication is typically oral or written, in both immediate and recorded modes, or when the time span available for communication is limited.
  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 do basic laboratory tests (urinalysis, CBC, etc.), carry out diagnostic procedures (thoracentesis, paracentesis, etc.) and read EKGs and radiographic imaging studies. A candidate should be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Examples of emergency treatment reasonably required of physicians are cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the administration of intravenous fluids and medication, the application of pressure to stop bleeding, the opening of obstructed airways, the suturing of simple wounds, and the performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.
  4. Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative. A candidate must be able to acquire, assimilate, interpret, integrate, and apply information from direct observation and oral communication, written messages, imaging studies, pathologic microscopic images, electrocardiograms, and other media. A candidate must also be able to comprehend three-dimensional and spatial relationships and continually exercise the skills of inquiry and intellectual advancement in the profession.
  5. Behavioral/Social. A candidate must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his or 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 adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation are assessed during the admissions and education processes. A candidate must be willing to interview, physically examine, and provide care to all patients regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, culture, religion, or sexual orientation.

Information in the Course Syllabus. The syllabus for each course contains expectations for tasks that students must be able to perform to demonstrate technical proficiency. Students should understand that course grades may be impacted by their ability to demonstrate technical proficiency in one or more areas.

Assessment of Student Performance. Assessments in many courses provide summative evaluation of a student’s academic, technical, and/or professional performance in the course, in addition to the grade. Assessments of students in third period clerkships are used in the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE), formerly known as the dean’s letter. More information on assessment is found in the HWCOM Medical Student Handbook.

Grievances. In the event that a student believes that a grade or assessment of technical proficiency is inaccurate or unfounded, the student has the opportunity to appeal said grade or assessment using the student grievance process set forth in Appendix A of the HWCOM Medical Student Handbook.

Adverse Actions. If the MSEPC believes a student is unable to meet the technical standards set forth by HWCOM, it may recommend an Adverse Action up to and including expulsion from the MD program. Students may appeal Adverse Actions. Disciplinary and appellate processes are fully described in Appendix A of the HWCOM Medical Student Handbook.

Accommodations. HWCOM acknowledges and abides by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and its amendments. Candidates who believe they may qualify for reasonable accommodations to meet one or more technical standards should refer to the Procedure for Requesting Accommodations for a Disability in the HWCOM Medical Student Handbook. Members of the administration or faculty who believe a student may benefit from evaluation for accommodations should refer the student to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs for consultation. In addition, the MSEPC may refer a medical student for assessment as part of the student evaluation process.