Minimum Technical Standards

Division of Graduate Medical Sciences Policy

It is essential that all students enrolled in the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences (“GMS”) at the Boston University School of Medicine have a predictably high level of competence across the range of knowledge, critical judgement, and technical skills generally expected of scientists and health-related professionals. These skills encompass academic and non-academic technical standards essential to all GMS and Boston University educational programs. Awarding a GMS degree or certificate implies that the recipient has demonstrated a foundation of knowledge in his or her field and the ability to independently apply and communicate that knowledge.

All students are expected to carry out the tasks, both intellectual and physical, of the foundational science, laboratory, and/or clinical curricula either without accommodation(s) or with those accommodation(s) that are reasonable in the range of settings and circumstances in which the educational program is based.

The following technical standards have been formally adopted by the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences at the Boston University School of Medicine. In addition, some GMS programs may have more specific technical standards. A student enrolled in a GMS degree or certificate program must have sufficient abilities and skills relevant to her or his field of study in the areas of observation; communication; sensory and motor coordination and function; intellectual-conceptual, integrative, and quantitative abilities; and behavioral and social attributes, as described below. The use of a human intermediary may be permitted provided that the student’s judgment will not be influenced by someone else’s power of selection and observation.

Observation

Students must be able to observe, participate in, and conduct experiments in the basic sciences or clinical sciences within the laboratory and instructional setting, as required by the program.

Communication

Students must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in both oral and written English, either independently or through the use of a human intermediary. If a student uses an intermediary, the intermediary is permitted to function only as an information conduit and may not serve in an integrative or evaluative role.

Students must be able to communicate experimental or clinical findings as required by the program with faculty, peers, or patients and families. This communication may also be in the context of presentations to the scientific community, professional journals, with laboratory personnel, or as a member of a clinical team.

Students must possess communication skills at a level sufficient to accomplish, in a timely manner, all administrative requirements and to meet the performance expectations of the faculty in all areas of the curriculum.

Sensory and Motor Coordination and Function

Students must possess motor and sensory capacity to perform activities required for the chosen discipline. Depending on the program, such actions may require coordination of gross and fine movements and equilibrium. Students may be required to perform such actions rapidly and under challenging circumstances. For example, students must be able to manipulate the equipment, instruments, apparatus, or tools required to collect and interpret data appropriate to the area of study, practice, or research.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities

Students must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, hypothesize, and synthesize ideas. It is also essential that students are able to absorb and process information from faculty, peers, patients, supervisors, and/or from the scientific literature, as components of problem solving and critical thinking. Students must be able to acquire information from experiences and demonstrations conveyed through coursework, lecture, group seminar, small group activities, and other.

When appropriate to the field of study, students must have the ability to follow universal precautions against contamination and cross-contamination with infectious agents, toxins, chemicals, and/or other physical hazards. Students must be able to work in a manner that is safe for themselves and others, and respond appropriately to emergencies and urgent situations.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Students must have the emotional and mental health required to demonstrate maturity, respect, and tolerance in their professional relationships under all circumstances. Students must have the ability to understand and comply with ethical standards for the conduct of research. They must be able to use their intellectual capacity, to exercise sound judgment, and to complete all responsibilities in a timely and professional manner. They must be able to demonstrate emotional stability to function effectively under stress and to adapt to changing environments.

Process

When a GMS applicant or student requests disability accommodation(s), he or she can expect to interact with the University’s Disability Services office (BU ODS), the GMS Disability Liaison, and the GMS Minimum Technical Standards Committee. This committee is a group comprised of GMS faculty, staff, and administrators who develop and implement policy for GMS applicants and students who request disability accommodations.

The “Minimum Technical Standards: Process” briefly describes the steps applicants and students must take to request a disability accommodation and the process that is followed in considering accommodation requests. The process outlined here is independent of the matriculation process by the GMS. In addition, such applicants or students are encouraged to review the GMS “Minimum Technical Standards: Delineation of Responsibilities.”

GMS Applicant

  1. The applicant reviews the GMS Minimum Technical Standards policy.
  2. If the applicant determines that he or she may need disability accommodation(s) to meet the curricular requirements, he or she contacts the University’s Disability Services office (BU ODS).
  3. BU ODS informs the applicant of the documentation he or she must submit to have his or her accommodation request evaluated.
  4. The applicant submits to BU ODS his or her request for accommodation(s) along with the required supporting documentation.
  5. After evaluating the requested accommodation(s), BU ODS communicates its recommendation to the GMS Associate Provost for review and consultation with the Dean as appropriate. At the discretion of the Associate Provost or the Dean, the GMS Minimum Technical Standards Committee may be convened to further evaluate the requested accommodation(s).
  6. If the final recommendation is to deny the requested accommodation(s) and the applicant nevertheless matriculates, he or must meet GMS and/or program curricular requirements. A student who fails to meet the curricular requirements may face dismissal.

GMS Matriculated Student

  1. During his or her tenure at GMS, the student determines that he or she may need accommodations for a disability.
  2. The student reviews the GMS Minimum Technical Standards Policy.
  3. The student contacts the University’s Disability Services office (BU ODS).
  4. BU ODS informs the student of the documentation he or she must submit to have his or her accommodation request evaluated.
  5. The student submits to BU ODS his or her request for accommodation(s) along with the required supporting documentation.
  6. After evaluating the requested accommodation(s), BU ODS communicates its recommendation to the GMS Associate Provost for review and consultation with the Dean as appropriate. At the discretion of the Associate Provost or the Dean, the GMS Minimum Technical Standards Committee may be convened to further evaluate the requested accommodation(s).
  7. If the final recommendation is to deny the requested accommodation(s), then one of the following will occur:
    • The student proceeds in the curriculum without accommodation(s) and will be expected to meet GMS and/or program curricular requirements. A student who fails to meet the curricular requirements may face dismissal.
    • The student withdraws from GMS because he or she cannot meet the curricular requirements without the accommodation(s).

Delineation of Responsibilities

This “Minimum Technical Standards: Delineation of Responsibilities” briefly describes the obligations of applicants and students on the one hand, and GMS on the other hand, in the context of a request for a disability accommodation. In addition, applicants or students who plan to request disability accommodation(s) are encouraged to review the GMS “Minimum Technical Standards: Process.”

Applicant or Student

  1. The applicant or student is responsible for providing his or her own appropriate adaptive medical equipment.
  2. The applicant or student is responsible for contacting the BU ODS and the GMS Disability Liaison to request disability accommodation(s).
  3. The applicant or student is responsible for engaging in an interactive process with BU ODS about his/her specific needs, what accommodations are reasonable, and how such accommodations might be implemented to support the student in the course or program.
  4. The applicant or student should contact the GMS Disability Liaison to initiate the process of notifying appropriate individuals using the letter provided by the Minimum Technical Standard Committee that includes provisions for the approved accommodation(s).
  5. The applicant or student is responsible for advocating for her/himself with faculty in courses and/or laboratories.

GMS

  1. GMS will respond in a timely manner to an applicant or student’s request for disability accommodation(s).
  2. GMS will disclose the approved accommodation(s) to faculty or staff only after the applicant or student has completed the GMS Accommodation Release Form. Although communication with faculty and staff regarding an applicant or student’s accommodation(s) must be initiated by the student, the GMS Disability Liaison may assist in notifying the program or course directors of the approved accommodation(s) with student or applicant’s consent.
  3. GMS, in some cases acting through the Minimum Technical Standards Committee, will provide the student with a letter outlining any approved accommodation(s) for program and course directors or laboratory Principal Investigator.
  4. GMS will work with the program and course directors, the registrar, dissertation/thesis advisor, and the student to develop an appropriate academic schedule.