Technical Standards

Technical Standards

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


Candidates of Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine are selected on the basis of their academic, personal and extracurricular dimensions. In addition, candidates must have the intellectual, physical and emotional capacities to meet the requirements of the school’s curriculum and of a successful medical career.

The CWRU School of Medicine’s MD degree is a broad, undifferentiated degree attesting to general knowledge in medicine and the basic skills required for the practice of medicine. Essential abilities and characteristics required for the completion of the MD degree require certain minimum physical and cognitive abilities as well as sufficient mental and emotional stability to assure that candidates for admission, promotion and graduation are able to complete the program and participate fully in all aspects of medical training. The School of Medicine intends for its graduates to become competent and compassionate physicians who are capable of entering residency training and qualifying for medical licensure. 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 the faculty.

The School of Medicine has a responsibility to train competent medical professionals and scientists who demonstrate 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 and quantitative abilities; and social and behavioral skills. All candidates must adhere to universal precaution measures and meet safety standards applicable to medical settings and other professional activities. For the purpose of this document, impairment refers to any condition that interferes with an individual’s ability to function in the capacity of a medical student meeting all requirements of the program. Impairment may exist in one or multiple domains including: psychomotor activity and skills, conceptual or factual recall, integrative or synthetic thoughts, processes, judgment, attentiveness, demeanor, and attitudes as presented in speech or actions as well as any addiction to and/or physical dependence upon any chemical substance(s).

CWRU 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 listed in this document, with or without reasonable accommodations, 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 ESS Disability Resources.

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, and are requirements for admission, retention, promotion, and graduation.

Technical Standards

  1. Observation: Candidates must be able to obtain information, and actively participate in, demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences. Such experiments include, but are not limited to the dissection of cadavers, examination of specimens in laboratory settings, and the microscopic examination of specimens. Candidates must be able to accurately attain information from patients and evaluate findings. They must be able to perform a complete physical examination in order to assimilate findings based on this information and to cultivate an appropriate diagnostic and treatment plan. These skills require the use of vision, hearing and touch or the functional equivalent.
  2. Communication: Candidates must be able to communicate effectively, sensitively, and efficiently with patients, their families, health care professionals, colleagues, faculty, and staff. Candidates must be able to acquire the patient’s medical history in a timely manner, interpret non-verbal information, and establish a therapeutic rapport with patients. Candidates are also required to record information accurately and clearly; and communicate efficiently in English with other health care professionals.
  3. Motor-Function: Candidates, after appropriate training, must possess the capacity to perform physical examinations and diagnostics maneuvers. Candidates are required to respond to clinical situations in a timely and efficient manner while providing general and emergency care. These activities require some physical mobility, coordination of both gross and fine motor neuromuscular functions, and balance and equilibrium.
  4. 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, problem-based learning groups, team and collaborative activities, individual study, preparation and presentation of reports simulations, and through the use of technology. Candidates are expected to possess the ability to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, synthesize, and transmit information.
  5. Behavioral and Social Attributes: Candidates must exhibit the emotional stability 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 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 CWRU School of Medicine Educational Program

The CWRU 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.

Should, despite reasonable accommodation (whether the candidate chooses to use the accommodation or not), a candidate or student’s existing or acquired disability interfere with patient or peer safety, or otherwise impede the ability to complete Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicines 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.

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 ESS Disability Resources and request accommodations. Candidates must provide documentation of the disability and the specific functional limitations to ESS Disability Resources. Candidates who fail to register with ESS Disability Resources or who fail to provide the necessary documentation to ESS 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 ESS 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 ESS Disability Resources.

ESS Disability Resources
Location: Sears Building, Room 470
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 using the disclosure form available through the ESS Disability Resources webpage. Under separate cover, students must submit documentation of their disability to the office of ESS 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.

While the School of Medicine works in conjunction with ESS Disability Resources to determine and coordinate reasonable accommodations, disability documentation and students individual diagnoses remain confidential.

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, ESS 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 ESS 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 ESS 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.

Specific Standards

Specific Standards

In addition to documented academic ability and other relevant personal characteristics, the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine expects all applicants for admission to possess and be able to demonstrate the skills, attributes and qualities set forth below, without unreasonable dependence on technology or intermediaries.

  • Physical Health: A medical student must possess the physical health and stamina needed to carry out the program of medical education.
  • Intellectual Skills: A medical student must have sufficient powers of intellect to acquire, assimilate, integrate and apply information. A medical student must have the intellectual ability to solve problems. A medical student must possess the ability to comprehend three-dimensional and spatial relationships.
  • Motor Skills: A medical student must have sufficient use of motor skills to carry out all necessary procedures, both those involved in learning the fundamental sciences and those required in hospital and clinical environments. This includes the ability to participate in relevant educational exercises and to extract information from written sources.
  • Communication: A medical student must have sufficient use of speech, hearing and vision to communicate effectively with patients, teachers and peers in both oral and written forms.
  • Sensory Abilities: A medical student must have sufficient use of the senses of vision, hearing, touch and smell to observe effectively in the classroom, laboratory and clinical setting. Students must possess the ability to observe both close at hand and at a distance.
  • Behavioral Qualities: A medical student must possess emotional health sufficient to carry out the tasks above, must have good judgment and must behave in a professional, reliable, mature and responsible manner. A medical student must be adaptable, possessing sufficient flexibility to function in new and stressful environments. A medical student must have appropriate motivation, integrity, compassion and a genuine interest in caring for others regardless of gender, sexual orientation, cultural and ethnic background, socio-economic status, religious affiliation and age.
Criteria & Prerequisites for Undergraduate Degree

Criteria & Prerequisites for Undergraduate Degree

General Degree Criteria

Applicants for admission must complete a course of study leading to a baccalaureate degree at an accredited U.S. or Canadian college or university prior to matriculation. One degree (bachelor’s, master’s or PhD) must be earned from a school in the U.S. or Canada. The applicant must reside in the U.S. or Canada a minimum of one year.

Prerequisite Requirements

Please closely review the chart in the next tab, entitled Course Requirements. If these prerequisites were not fulfilled at an accredited four-year degree-granting American or Canadian college or university, you should be prepared to take at least one year of challenging, upper-level sciences at one of these institutions prior to application. If you took AP biology, we recommend you take additional upper-level biology in college.

If all science prerequisites were taken at a community college, we strongly recommend that you take at least one year of upper-level sciences from an accredited four-year degree-granting university within the U.S. or Canada. If a few science prerequisite courses were taken at a community college, we will evaluate them on a case-by-case basis. We are open to online biochemistry and others but do not recommend a total online curriculum. Our curriculum relies on students being comfortable in the classroom and working as a team.

Course Requirements

Course Requirements

Required Coursework

These are the minimum amount of courses we expect you to have completed at the time of matriculation, not necessarily at the time of application. That said, it is to your advantage to have as many of the required courses completed in preparation for the MCAT and, ultimately, for medical school.

Recommended Coursework

These are courses that we strongly encourage you to consider taking in preparation for the MCAT and, ultimately, for medical school. You don't necessarily have to take all of these courses to be a competitive applicant, but use this as a guide for preparing for medical school.

Requirements by Course

Courses Required or Recommended Lab Duration (Semesters) AP/IB Credit Online Community College
General Chemistry Required Yes 2 Yes No Case-by-case
Organic Chemistry Required Yes 1 No No Case-by-case
Biochemistry or Molecular Biology Including Metabolism Required No 1 No Case-by-case Case-by-case
Biology Recommended Yes 2 No No Case-by-case
Physics Recommended Yes 2 Yes No Case-by-case
Writing or College English Required NA 1 No No Case-by-case
Psychology Recommended NA 1 No No Case-by-case
Social Sciences Recommended NA 1 No No Case-by-case
Behavioral Sciences Recommended NA 1 No No Case-by-case
Biostatistics Recommended NA 1 No No Case-by-case
Research Experience Required** NA NA NA NA NA

** Minimum of two summers of hypothesis research experience in a medical or non-medical field is a requirement for the CCLCM program since the CCLCM curriculum program is designed to train physician investigators.