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Technical Standards

The Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences and OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals based on their age, race, ethnicity, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender, gender identity or expression, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or other protected category.


Regarding disabled (or physically challenged) individuals, the College will not discriminate against such individuals who are otherwise qualified, but the College will expect that minimal technical standards be met by all applicants and students as set forth herein. These standards reflect what has been determined to be reasonable expectations of osteopathic medical students and physicians in performing common and important functions, keeping in mind the safety and welfare of the patients for whom our graduates will care.


An osteopathic physician must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. In order to perform the activities described below, candidates for the D.O. degree must be able to quickly, accurately, and consistently learn, integrate, analyze, and synthesize data.

To facilitate the attainment of optimum care and safety, students at OSU-COM must:


  1. Behave in a manner exhibiting high moral and behavioral standards reflecting the position and status of an osteopathic physician.
  2. Demonstrate respect for individuals and groups with consideration to diversity, reflecting commitment to OSU-CHS’s non-discrimination statement.
  3. Students of osteopathic medicine must meet minimal technical and ability standards. The practice of medicine in general and osteopathic medicine in particular, requires the ability to learn, process, and utilize a great deal of knowledge and experience. Students must have the ability to see, hear and touch independently to optimally assess the physical, mental and emotional status of patients. Where a deficiency occurs, it must be compensated with the aid of prosthetics to the extent that the student's functioning is equal to that of a non-impaired student. Reasonable adaptations are those that will enable the osteopathic student to function independently and when necessary in a team-like fashion with other health professionals in an unimpaired manner. 

Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine expects its applicants and students to meet certain minimum technical standards as outlined below. Every applicant and student of OSU-COM is expected to possess those intellectual, ethical, physical, and emotional capabilities required to undertake the full curriculum and to achieve the levels of competence required by the faculty. The holder of a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. OSU-COM has adopted these standards with due consideration for the safety and well-being of the patients for whom its graduates will eventually care.

The specific technical standards recommended by the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine are set forth below.


Observation & Visual Integration

Applicants and students must have sufficient visual capabilities to observe demonstrations, experiments, and laboratory exercises in the basic and clinical sciences, as well as proper evaluation and treatment integration in order to assess asymmetry, range of motion and tissue color and texture changes.


They must be able to observe a patient accurately at varying distances with the ability to determine size and depth of an object in low light at 0.3cm, and with the ability to discern non-verbal communication.



Applicants and students should be able to speak, hear and observe patients in order to elicit information, examine patients, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communication. They must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients in English.


Communication includes not only speech but also reading and writing. Applicants and students must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the health care team in English.


Motor Function

Applicants and students should have sufficient motor function to execute movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Examples of movements reasonably required of physicians include, but are not limited to, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), administration of intravenous medication, the application of pressure to stop bleeding, the opening of obstructed airways, the suturing of simple wounds, the performance of obstetrical maneuvers and osteopathic manipulative medicine. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.


Sensory Skills

Applicants and students of osteopathic medicine must possess an enhanced ability to use their sensory skills. Individuals with disabilities who have significant tactile sensory or proprioceptive disabilities may require a thorough evaluation to determine if they are otherwise qualified, with or without reasonable accommodation. Such individuals may include those with significant previous burns, sensory motor deficits, cicatrix formation and malformations of the upper extremities.


Strength and Mobility

Medical treatments, such as osteopathic manipulative medicine and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, often require upright posture with sufficient upper & lower extremity and overall body strength and mobility. Individuals with disabilities who have significant limitations in these areas may require evaluation to determine if they are otherwise qualified, with or without reasonable accommodation.


Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities

Applicants and students must be able to concentrate, analyze and interpret data, and make decisions within areas in which there is a reasonable amount of visual and auditory distraction. They must perform these functions under a time limitation and do so under a reasonable amount of stress, as physicians are expected to be able to perform such duties in diverse clinical settings where others may be present and where there is a certain degree of noise. Applicants and students must be able to accurately write prescriptions, accurately perform basic mathematical functions, and accurately and quickly read charts with minimal error in areas where there may be distractions. They also must demonstrate ability to comprehend three-dimensional relationships, and to understand spatial relationships of structures.


Behavioral and Social Attributes

Applicants and students must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, exercise good judgment, and promptly complete all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients and the development of mature, sensitive and effective professional relationships with patients. Applicants and students must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and adapt to changing environments, display flexibility and 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 will be assessed during the admissions and educational processes.


Participation in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Laboratory and Clinical Care Encounters

Active participation in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Laboratories and Clinical Care Encounters is an admission, matriculation and graduation requirement. During Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine laboratory and clinical care encounters, it is imperative to the educational process that the body region being examined and/or treated will need to be exposed for observation, palpation and treatment. The examination and treatment must be conducted in a respectful and professional manner.


The development of palpatory skills used for diagnosis and treatment is significant and required in osteopathic medical schools. Stedman’s Medical Dictionary defines “palpation” as examination with the hands and fingers, touching, feeling or perceiving by the sense of touch. Palpation in the osteopathic educational context is the use of touch to examine the body. Palpatory skills are used in all areas of osteopathic medical practice and are especially important in the evaluation and treatment of the musculoskeletal system.


The development of palpatory skills and ability to perform osteopathic treatments are initiated in the first- and second-year labs. This learning requires active participation in all laboratory sessions where students palpate and will experience palpation by their peers and instructors of both genders to enhance the development of their own palpatory skills. Each student will palpate a variety of people with different body types to simulate the diversity of patients expected in a practice setting. Fingernails must be trimmed so as not to impair palpation or cause discomfort to the person being palpated.

The osteopathic medical profession uses a variety of treatment models through which the student will learn the art, science and skills of osteopathic manipulative treatment. Psychomotor skills are developed by repetition and reinforcement. Reading and observation, while helpful in understanding the didactic concepts, do not develop the skills required to perform palpatory diagnosis and manipulative treatment. Each student is required to actively participate in all skill development sessions.


Dress Code in Osteopathic Principles and Practice Laboratories

The dress requirement in clinical skills training sessions is designed to promote learning by providing optimal access to diagnostic observation and palpatory experience. Wearing inappropriate clothing interferes with a partner’s experience of diagnosis and treatment. 

Appropriate attire must be clean and includes:

  • Shorts which are several inches above the knee - (no jean shorts, cut-offs, mcargo, thick-seamed shorts, spandex, short shorts or knee length shorts)
  • T-shirts - both genders may be asked to remove t-shirts while acting as patients.
  • Sports bras or bathing suit tops for women - these should expose the spine and ribs (not wide t-back styles).
  • Students may wear scrubs (or other apparel approved by the course director) ,over the laboratory attire when not in the role of the patient.
  • When in the role of the patient, each student is expected to remove her/his shoes (no shoes are permitted on the tables).
  • Hats or head coverings (other than for religious purposes) are not permitted in lab.
  • Religious head coverings must be modified when necessary to allow palpation when they would obscure the immediate area to be examined or treated (e.g., head, neck, upper back). Modifications can include: adjustment of the covering permitting unobstructed palpation beneath the covering; or substitution of a thinner material that allows for adequate evaluation and treatment.
  • Each student must be appropriately attired before class begins. Failure to be appropriately attired for class impedes the educational process and will not be tolerated.

Any student with a pre-existing health problem that may preclude examination and/or treatment in a clinical skills laboratory is required to submit a written request for limitation and/or exclusion to the department chair (or designee) and present appropriate medical documentation. A physician member of the department will review this information on a case-by-case basis, and may require additional diagnostic measures. The department member reviewing the case will determine any limitation or exclusion from participation, and the student will be notified in writing of the decision. 


Reasonable Accommodations for Students with Disabilities 

The intent of this policy is to provide each student with the opportunity to excel academically, while creating an equitable environment conducive to learning. In doing so, however, the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine must maintain the integrity of its curriculum and preserve those elements deemed essential to the acquisition of knowledge in all areas of osteopathic medicine, including the demonstration of basic skills required for the practice of osteopathic medicine. So for example, technology-related accommodations may be made for disabled students in some of these areas, but a candidate must be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner. One or more trained intermediaries may be provided to assist the student during the educational program, but not under circumstances where the student’s judgment must be mediated by someone else’s power of selection and observation.


This policy will be administered consistently, fairly, and in a non-discriminatory manner in compliance with the ADA and all other applicable laws. All applicants receiving supplementary application material for admission will be asked to certify they have reviewed the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Technical Standards and the Participation in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Laboratories requirements.


Any student accepted to the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine program who believes they have a mental and/or physical disability, and wish to pursue a request for an accommodation must bring this information and all supporting documentation to the Student’s with Disability Committee at OSU-COM in accordance with the OSU-COM Student Handbook.


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