TECHNICAL STANDARDS/DISABILITY SERVICES

Introduction

Candidates for the M.D. degree at the University of Florida College of Medicine (UFCOM) must be capable of completing core educational requirements and achieving the UFCOM 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

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

Communication

A candidate must demonstrate proficiency in the English language such that he or she 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 a candidate’s ability to communicate is compromised, the candidate must demonstrate alternative means and/or abilities to communicate with patients and members of the health care teams.

Motor

A candidate must be able to attend and participate in classes and activities which are a part of the curriculum. A candidate’s motor and sensory functions must be sufficient to diagnose and deliver patient care consistently, quickly and accurately. A candidate must be able to perform physical exams and diagnostic procedures using techniques, such as: palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate 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. A candidate must be able to participate in physically taxing duties over long hours.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities

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

A candidate must demonstrate the maturity and emotional stability required for full utilization of his or her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and the timely completion of all responsibilities attendant to his/her academic work, team work, and patient care. A candidate 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. A candidate must be able to function effectively under stress and proactively make use of available resources to help maintain both physical and mental health. A candidate 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. The candidate 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 UFCOM Medical Education Program

The UFCOM 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 Accommodations

  1. A candidate must comply with the following process for requesting and receiving appropriate reasonable accommodations, in a timely manner, to enable him or her to have the opportunity to meet the UFCOM requirements for completion of the medical education program.
  2.  It is the responsibility of a candidate with a disability, or a candidate who develops a disability, who requires accommodations in order to meet UFCOM technical standards, to self-disclose to the Disability Resource Center and request accommodations. The candidate must provide requested documentation of the disability during the DRC registration process. A candidate 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 candidate is encouraged to register with the DRC prior to the beginning of his or her first or subsequent semester or as soon as a disability is established in order to ensure access to accommodations to the fullest extent possible. Candidates are accountable for their performance, with or without accommodation. No candidate will be assumed to have a disability based on poor performance alone. Accommodations are not applied retroactively, and a disability-related explanation will not negate poor performance.
  3. Any request, design and implementation of accommodations for an individual candidate 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 review by the UFCOM Technical Standards Committee.
  4. 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 UFCOM will convene the UFCOM Technical Standards Committee. The Technical Standards Committee is an ad hoc committee reporting directly to the UFCOM Curriculum Committee. The Technical Standards Committee is responsible for reviewing requests for accommodations in light of the UFCOM Technical Standards and appropriate course standards and learning objectives. Membership consists of the Assistant Dean of Admissions, Assistant Dean for Medical Education, Associate Dean for Medical Education, Associate Dean of Student Affairs, and the Learning Specialist.
  5. Following review by the Technical Standards Committee, the implementation of accommodations for first and second year students will be facilitated by the UFCOM Office of Student Affairs. The Office of Student Affairs will notify course directors of requested accommodations via a student’s DRC accommodation letter.
  6. Rising third year students with current academic accommodations should review their accommodations with the DRC in advance of their clinical years. This review is important for all students requesting accommodations, especially for students who may request the support of non-academic accommodations. Following review by the Technical Standards Committee, the implementation of the implementation of accommodations for third and fourth year students will be facilitated by the UFCOM Office of Student Affairs. The Office of Student Affairs will notify clerkship directors of requested accommodations via a student’s DRC accommodation letter.
  7. 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 UFCOM 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Should, despite reasonable accommodation (whether the candidate chooses to use the accommodation or not), a candidate’s existing or acquired disability interfere with patient or peer safety, or otherwise impede the ability to complete the UFCOM medical education 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.
  10. 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.

Annual Declaration:

Each year, all candidates must sign and return to the Office of Student Affairs a copy of the form “University of Florida College of Medicine Acknowledgement of Technical Standards for Enrollment, Promotion and Graduation.” Failure to sign and return the form could delay or prevent promotion or graduation. Each year, the Office of Student Affairs will notify students of the deadline for filing the Declaration, but it is the student’s responsibility to complete, sign and return the form by the deadline.