Technical Standards for Medical Students

The mission of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine is to prepare physicians to practice clinical medicine of the highest standard with compassion and to identify and solve fundamental questions in the mechanisms, prevention and treatment of disease, in health care delivery and in the basic sciences. 

JHUSOM is committed to diversity and to attracting and educating students who will make the population of health care professional representative of the national population.  

Although students learn under the supervision of faculty, students interact with patients throughout their medical school education. Patient safety and wellbeing are therefore critical factors in establishing requirements involving the physical, cognitive, and interpersonal 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.

JHUSOM will consider for admission any applicant who meets its academic and nonacademic criteria and who demonstrates the ability to perform the skills listed in this document, with or without reasonable accommodations. 

The stated intention of a medical student 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 the faculty.

Technical Standards 


Medical students must acquire information as presented through demonstrations and experiences in the foundational sciences. Medical students must be able to obtain and interpret information through a comprehensive assessment of patients, correctly interpret diagnostic representations of patients’ physiological data, and accurately evaluate patients’ conditions and responses.   


Medical students must exhibit interpersonal skills to enable effective caregiving for patients, including the ability to communicate effectively, with all members of a multidisciplinary health-care team, patients, and those supporting patients. Medical students must be able to record information clearly and accurately interpret verbal and nonverbal communication.  

Motor Functions:  

Medical students must be able to perform routine physical examination and diagnostic maneuvers. Medical students must be able to provide general care and emergency treatment for patients, and to respond to emergency situations in a timely manner. These activities require some physical mobility, coordination of both gross and fine motor neuromuscular functions, and balance and equilibrium. Medical students must be able to meet applicable safety standards for the environment, and to follow universal precaution procedures.  

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: 

Medical students must be able to effectively interpret, assimilate, understand, and communicate the complex information required to function within the medical school curriculum both in person and via remote technology, and engage in problem solving individually and in small groups. Medical students must demonstrate the ability to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and adapt to different learning environments and modalities.

Behavioral and Social Attributes:  

Medical students must exercise good judgment; attend to the responsibilities necessary for the care of patients; and develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. Medical students must demonstrate the skills required to effectively manage heavy workloads, function under stress, adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of the uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of patients. Medical students are expected to exhibit professionalism, personal accountability, compassion, integrity, concern for others, and interpersonal skills including the ability to accept and apply feedback and treat all individuals in a respectful manner, regardless of gender identity, age, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or any other protected status.   

Ethics and Professionalism 

Medical students must maintain and display ethical and moral behavior commensurate with the role of a physician in all interactions with patients, faculty, staff, students, and the public. Medical students should understand and function within the legal and ethical aspects of the practice of medicine. 

The technical standards delineated above must be met with or without accommodation. Students who, after review of the technical standards, determine that they require reasonable accommodation to fully engage in the program should contact Student Disability Services to confidentially discuss their accommodation needs. Given the clinical nature of our programs, time may be needed to create and implement the accommodations. Accommodations are not retroactive; therefore, timely requests are essential and encouraged.  

Equal Access to the JHUSOM Educational Program   

Our core values translate into our work with all students, including those with disabilities. JHUSOM actively collaborates with students to develop innovative ways to ensure accessibility and creates a respectful accountable culture through our confidential disability services. JHUSOM is committed to excellence in accessibility; we encourage students with disabilities to disclose and seek accommodations.

Candidates with Disabilities   

  • Candidates who have questions about or want to request accommodations, auxiliary aids and/or services should contact Student Disability Services.
  • In accordance with Johns Hopkins’ policies which, in turn, embody applicable federal, state, and local laws (e.g., the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act), the Medical School does not discriminate in admissions or educational programs against any individual on the basis of his/her/their disability or handicap. No otherwise qualified individual with a disability/handicap will be excluded from admission. 
  • All candidates must be able to perform essential functions in a reasonably independent manner. Their use of senses such as touch, pain, temperature position, pressure, movement, stereognosis, and vibration must be sufficiently intact to enable them to carry out all activities required for a complete medical education. Candidates must have motor function capabilities to meet the demands of medical education and the demands of total patient care. The candidates for the medical degree must be able to independently demonstrate a range of abilities and skills. The use of trained intermediaries to carry out functions described in the technical standards will not be permitted. Intermediaries, no matter how well trained, apply their own powers of selection and observation, which could affect the student’s judgment and performance.

Requests for Accommodations

  • A candidate who has not been offered admission to the School of Medicine may disclose a disability and request accommodation during the admission process. This is not required unless the candidate wants to request an accommodation for the admission process.  
  • Need to affiliate with disability services?  Use our online affiliation system to start the process or email [email protected] for questions.
  • While medical 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 up to four to six weeks. Accommodations are not retroactive. 

Ability to Meet the SOM Technical Standards

Candidates for admission must review and verify their ability to meet the School of Medicine technical standards when completing the application for admission.

If at any point an enrolled medical student ceases to meet the technical standards of the School of Medicine, they may choose to work with Student Disability Services to determine if reasonable accommodations could remove barriers. They also may work with the Office of Medical Student Affairs to see what other services are available. Should, despite reasonable accommodation (whether the candidate chooses to use the accommodation or not), a candidate or student’s existing or acquired disability interferes with patient or peer safety, or otherwise impede the ability to complete Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s undifferentiated program and advance to graduation, residency, training, or licensure, the candidate may be denied admission or may be separated, discontinued, or dismissed from the program.


Monitoring of the ability of a candidate or student to meet the technical standards is the responsibility of a continuum of School of Medicine committees, faculty, and the medical student. For medical students who have matriculated into the School of Medicine, issues related to technical standards are evaluated by the Pre-Clerkship or Clerkship Student Assessment and Formational Committee and the Medical Student Promotions Committee and considered on an individual basis.

Contact Us

For additional information about the admissions process, please email us at [email protected]