Essential Functions

Everyone who applies for admission to UT Southwestern Medical School must be able to perform specific essential functions, the basic activities needed to complete the generalist medical school curriculum. All applicants who can perform the medical school’s essential functions, with or without reasonable accommodations, will be considered for admission.

A candidate for the M.D. degree must be able to perform these essential functions:


Candidates must be able to accurately observe demonstrations and patients close up and at a distance, to learn skills and to gather patient data (e.g., observe a patient’s gait, appearance, posture, etc.). They must also possess functional use of the sense of vision and somatic sensation. The sense of smell also enhances observation.


Candidates must be able to communicate orally and in writing with patients and members of the health care team. Candidates also must be able to read and comprehend written material.

Psychomotor Skills

Candidates must have sufficient motor function to obtain data from patients using tactile, auditory, and visual maneuvers. They must be able to execute motor movements to provide the general care and emergency treatment reasonably required of physicians.

Intellectual and Cognitive Abilities

Candidates must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, synthesize, integrate, and apply information. Problem solving, a clinical skill required of physicians, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, candidates must be able to comprehend relationships in three dimensions and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Candidates must possess the emotional health required to use their intellectual abilities fully, such as exercising good judgment, promptly completing all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and developing mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with them. Workloads will be taxing and candidates must function effectively under stress.

Candidates must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of the uncertainties and ambiguities inherent in clinical problems. UT Southwestern Medical School will look for compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation during the admissions and education process.

Ethical Standards

A candidate must demonstrate professional demeanor and behavior, and must perform in an ethical manner in all dealings with peers, faculty, staff, and patients. Candidates must treat all patients equally without regard to ethnicity, race, gender, religion, or any other attribute.