Geisinger Commonwealth’s Technical Standards

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine is committed to full compliance with section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (PL 93-112) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA PL 101-336) enacted by Congress in 1990.

Qualified and accepted applicants to Geisinger Commonwealth must be able to complete all requirements inherent in and leading to the MD degree. To ensure this, the college has adopted technical standards for the assessment of all accepted applicants to the college. Because the MD degree signifies that the holder is a physician prepared for entry into the practice of medicine, it follows that graduates must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care.

Candidates for the MD degree must have somatic sensation and the functional use of the senses of vision and hearing. Candidates’ diagnostic skills will also be lessened without the functional use of the senses of equilibrium, smell and taste. Additionally, they must have sufficient exteroceptive sense (touch, pain and temperature), sufficient proprioceptive sense (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis and vibratory) and sufficient motor function to permit them to carry out the activities described in the sections that follow. They must be able to consistently, quickly and accurately integrate all information received by whatever sense(s) employed and they must have the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze and synthesize data.

A candidate for the MD degree must have abilities and skills of five varieties including observation; communication; motor; conceptual, integrative and quantitative and behavioral and social. Technological compensation can be made for some handicaps in certain of these areas, but a candidate should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner.

Observation: The candidate must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences, including but not limited to physiologic and pharmacologic demonstrations, microbiologic cultures and microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states. A candidate must also be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision and somatic sensation. It is enhanced by the functional use of the sense of smell.

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. Communication includes not only speech but reading and writing. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the healthcare team.

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 (proctoscopy, paracentesis, etc.) and read EKGs and x-rays. 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 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.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Problem solving, the creative skill demanded of physicians, requires all these intellectual abilities. In addition, the candidate should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.

Behavioral and Social Attributes: A candidate must possess the 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, 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 learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in 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 processes. A candidate must readily be willing and able to examine any patient regardless of the patient’s age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, veteran status or political beliefs.

For more information, please see our Technical Standards policy, or contact the Admissions Office or Jackie Ghormoz.