School of Medicine Technical, Non-Academic Standards

updated August 2021


Candidates must be able to observe demonstrations and participate in experiments of science, including but not limited to such things as dissection of cadavers; examination of specimens in anatomy, pathology, and neuroanatomy laboratories; and microscopic study of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states.  Candidates must be able to accurately observe patients and assess findings.  They must be able to obtain a medical history and perform a complete physical examination in order to integrate findings based on these observations and to develop an appropriate diagnostic and treatment plan.


Candidates must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with patients, their families, and members of the health care team. They must be able to obtain a medical history in a timely fashion, interpret non-verbal aspects of communication, and establish therapeutic relationships with patients.  Candidates must be able to record information accurately and clearly, and communicate effectively in English with other health care professionals in a variety of patient settings.

Motor Function

Candidates must possess the capacity to perform physical examinations and diagnostic maneuvers. They must be able to respond to emergency situations in a timely manner and provide general and emergency care. They must adhere to universal precaution measures and meet safety standards applicable to inpatient and outpatient settings and other clinical activities.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities

Candidates must have sufficient cognitive (mental) abilities and effective learning techniques to assimilate the detailed and complex information presented in the curriculum. They must be able to learn through a variety of modalities, including, but not limited to, classroom instruction; small group, team and collaborative activities; individual study; preparation and presentation of reports; and use of computer technology.  Candidates must be able to memorize, measure, calculate, reason, analyze, synthesize, and transmit information across modalities. They must recognize and draw conclusions about three-dimensional spatial relationships and logical sequential relationships among events. They must be able to formulate and test hypotheses that enable effective and timely problem solving in the diagnosis and treatment of patients in a variety of clinical modalities.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Candidates must demonstrate the maturity and emotional stability required for full use of their intellectual abilities. They must accept responsibility for learning, exercising good judgment, and promptly completing all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients. They must understand the legal and ethical aspects of the practice of medicine and function within both the law and ethical standards of the medical profession. Candidates must be able to work effectively, respectfully and professionally as part of the healthcare team, and to interact with patients, their families, and health care personnel in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner. They must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and long work hours, to function effectively under stress, and to display flexibility and adaptability to changing environments. They must be capable of regular, reliable and punctual attendance at classes and in regard to their clinical responsibilities. Candidates must be able to contribute to collaborative, constructive learning environments; accept constructive feedback from others; and take personal responsibility for making appropriate positive changes. It is expected that minimum accommodation will be requested with regards to this set of standards.

Ethical and Legal Standards

Candidates must meet the legal standards to be licensed to practice as a PA in the State of California. As such, candidates for admission must acknowledge and provide written explanation of any felony offense or disciplinary action taken against them prior to matriculation in the School of Medicine. In addition, should the student be convicted of any felony offense while in PA school, they agree to immediately notify the Associate Dean for PA Education as to the nature of the conviction. Failure to disclose prior or new offenses can lead to disciplinary action by the School of Medicine that may include dismissal. 


Equal Access to the School of Medicine’s Educational Program

The Stanford School of Medicine intends for its students and graduates to become competent and compassionate clinicians who are capable of meeting all requirements for PA licensure.

The School of Medicine has an institutional commitment to provide equal educational opportunities for qualified students with disabilities who apply for admission to the MSPA Studies program or who are enrolled as PA students. The School of Medicine is a leader in student diversity and individual rights, with a strong commitment to full compliance with state and federal laws and regulations (including the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 [as amended], and California law [Civil Code 51 and 54]). A “qualified person with a disability” is an individual with a disability who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the School of Medicine’s educational programs, with or without accommodations. As previously noted, admitted candidates with disabilities are reviewed individually, on a case-by-case basis, with a complete and careful consideration of all the skills, attitudes and attributes of each candidate to determine whether there are any reasonable accommodations or available options that would permit the candidate to satisfy the standards. An accommodation is not reasonable if it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of self and/or others; if making it requires a substantial modification in an essential element of the curriculum; if it lowers academic standards; or if it poses an undue administrative or financial burden. Except in rare circumstances, the use by the candidate of a third party (e.g. an intermediary) to perform any of the functions described in the Technical Standards set forth above would constitute an unacceptable substantial modification.


As stated above, admission and promotion at the School of Medicine is conditional on the candidate’s having the willingness and ability to satisfy the technical standards, with or without reasonable accommodation.

Admitted candidates who have a disability and need accommodations should initiate discussions with the PA program’s Student Life Officer as the offer of admission is received and accepted. The Student Life Officer is the liaison with the University’s Office of Accessible Education (OAE). It is the responsibility of a candidate with a disability to provide sufficiently current information documenting the general nature and extent of their disability, and the functional limitations proposed to be accommodated. Evaluating and facilitating accommodation requests is a collaborative effort between the candidate, the School of Medicine, and the OAE. The School of Medicine reserves the right to request new or additional information.

Should a candidate have or develop a condition that would place patients, the candidate or others at risk or that may affect their need for accommodation, an evaluation with the School of Medicine and the OAE may be necessary. As in initial assessments, a complete and careful reconsideration of all the skills, attitudes and attributes of each candidate will be performed. This includes an assessment of their willingness, desire and ability to complete the MSPA Studies program curriculum and fulfill all requirements for PA licensure, and will be informed by the knowledge that students with varied types of disabilities have the ability to become successful medical professionals.