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Long School of Medicine – Office of Admissions & Outreach

Essential Abilities for Completion of the Medical Curriculum

Essential abilities are academic performance requirements that refer to those physical, cognitive, and behavioral abilities required for satisfactory completion of all aspects of the medical curriculum and the development of personal attributes required by the faculty at graduation.


The essential abilities required by the curriculum are in the following areas: intellectual (conceptual, integrative, and quantitative abilities for problem solving and diagnosis), behavioral and social, communication, motor, and sensory.

In addition, the medical student must demonstrate ethical standards and a professional demeanor in dealing with peers, faculty, staff and patients. Students should to be able to perform the essential functions listed with or without reasonable accommodation under the ADA and the ADAAAA guidelines ( The Health Science Center Americans with Disabilities Coordinator should be contacted for any questions (

Intellectual Abilities

The medical student must be able to comprehend and learn factual knowledge from readings and didactic presentations, gather information independently, analyze and synthesize learned material, and apply information to clinical situations.

Behavioral, Social, and Professional Abilities

The medical student must possess the emotional maturity and stability to function effectively under the stress that is inherent in medicine and to adapt to circumstances that are unpredictable or that change rapidly. They must exhibit compassion, empathy, altruism, integrity, responsibility, and tolerance, as well as demonstrate the ability to exercise the requisite judgment in the practice of medicine.

Communication Skills

The medical student must be able to communicate effectively with patients both orally and in writing, including gathering information appropriately, explaining medical information in a patient-centered manner, listening effectively, recognizing, acknowledging, and responding to emotions, and exhibiting sensitivity to social and cultural differences. They must be able to communicate effectively and work cooperatively with all other health care team members.

Motor Skills

The medical student must have sufficient physical dexterity to master technical and procedural aspects of patient care. They must have sufficient strength to perform the essential duties and must have adequate physical stamina and energy to carry out taxing duties over long hours.

Sensory Abilities

The medical student should have sufficient sensory abilities of sight, hearing, smell and touch in order to obtain a medical history, perform a physical examination, and to diagnose and deliver patient care.

* Used and modified with permission from materials developed by the Office of GME, University of Washington School of Medicine