Technical Standards Requirements

The College of Osteopathic Medicine requires that all candidates for the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree meet the following technical standards for admission and participation in its program.

The technical standards can be broken into five categories of required skills:

  1. Observation
  2. Communication
  3. Motor
  4. Intellectual, conceptual, integrative, and quantitative abilities
  5. Behavioral and social attributes

All applicants and matriculates are held to the same academic and technical standards. These technical standards can be met with or without reasonable accommodations. If you believe that you may need accommodations, please consult the Michigan State University Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities.


The candidate must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences, including but not limited to anatomic, physiologic, and pharmacologic demonstrations, as well as microbiologic cultures and microscopic studies of micro-organisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states. A candidate must be able to observe and interpret the physical and emotional status of a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand; acquire information from written and electronic sources; visualize information as presented in images from paper, films, slides or video; interpret x-ray and other graphic images as well as digital or analog representations of physiologic phenomenon (such as electrocardiograms). Observation necessitates the functional use of the visual, auditory, and somatic senses, enhanced by the functional use of the sense of smell and other sensory modalities. The use of a trained intermediary to perform the necessary skills on behalf of the candidate is not permitted.


A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. A candidate must be able to elicit information from patients, describe changes in mood, activity and posture and perceive nonverbal communications. Communication includes; verbal communication, as well as reading, writing and the use of electronic communication devices. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral, written, and electronic form with all members of the health care team. 

Such communication requires the functional use of visual, auditory, and somatic senses enhanced by the functional use of other sensory modalities. When a candidate’s ability to communicate through these sensory modalities is compromised the candidate must demonstrate alternative means and/or abilities to meet communication standards. If the alternatives are acceptable, it is expected that obtaining and using such alternate means and/or abilities will be the responsibility of the candidate. The use of a trained intermediary to perform the necessary skills on behalf of the candidate is not permitted.


Candidates must have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. The motor skill of palpation is important in the total osteopathic diagnostic process and especially to the development of the art of osteopathic palpatory diagnosis and treatment of the neuromusculoskeletal system. Accordingly, it is required that students have direct physical contact in clinical teaching situations with faculty, fellow students, and live models of both genders.

A candidate must be able to do basic laboratory tests (urinalysis, CBC, etc.), carry out diagnostic procedures (proctoscopy, paracentesis, etc.), and read EKG’s and radiologic images. A candidate must be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Examples of emergency treatment reasonably required of candidates 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. The use of a trained intermediary to perform the necessary skills on behalf of the candidate is not permitted.


Conceptual, integrative, and quantitative abilities: Candidates must have the abilities of measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of physicians, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, the candidate must be able to comprehend three dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures. Candidates must be able to perform these problem-solving skills in a timely fashion. The use of a trained intermediary to perform the necessary skills on behalf of the candidate is not permitted.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

A candidate must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, exercise good judgment, promptly complete all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis, and be able to develop 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 are assessed during the admissions and education processes. A candidate must be able to communicate with and care for, in a nonjudgmental way, all persons including those whose culture, spiritual beliefs, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and/or age are different from his/her own. A candidate must also be able to examine the entire patient, regardless of gender, and regardless of the social, cultural, or religious beliefs of the patient or of the medical student. Michigan State University acknowledges religious holidays. Students may request leave with the college and hospital/clinic and the request will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis per the clinical training requirements.

Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. The College of Osteopathic Medicine will consider for admission and participation in its program any candidate who demonstrates the ability to acquire knowledge necessary for the practice of osteopathic medicine, as well as the ability to perform or to learn to perform the technical standards as described in this document. Candidates will be evaluated not only on their scholastic accomplishments, but also on these technical standards which are necessary to meet the full requirements of the school’s curriculum and to graduate as skilled and effective practitioners of osteopathic medicine.

Additional Information

Policy on Osteopathic Clinical Training and Student Safety