Essential Abilities Requirements for Appointment, Reappointment, Retention and Certification

University of Washington Internal Medicine Residency Training Program

Essential abilities are academic performance requirements that refer to those physical, cognitive and behavioral abilities required for satisfactory completion of all aspects of a graduate medical curriculum, and the development of personal attributes required by the faculty of all residents at certification.  The essential abilities required by the curriculum are in the following areas:  motor, sensory, communication, intellectual (conceptual, integrative, and quantitative abilities for problem solving and diagnosis) and the behavioral and social aspects of the performance of a physician.  These are attributes each internal medicine resident physician must possess and the use of a third party for the fulfillment of these attributes is not adequate.  Additionally, residents must be legally authorized to practice in all healthcare clinical training sites. 

Motor Skills

  • Physical dexterity to master technical and procedural aspects of patient care.
  • Lifting.
  • Adequate physical stamina and energy to carry out taxing duties over long hours. 
  • Bilateral upper extremity manual dexterity to perform complex diagnostic and therapeutic internal medicine procedures.

Sensory Abilities

  • Residents must be able to gather information with all senses, especially sight, hearing, smell and touch, in order to gather a medical and psychosocial history, perform a physical examination, and diagnose and treat patients. 

Communication Skills

  • Residents must be able to communicate effectively with patients, 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. 
  • Residents must be able to communicate effectively and work cooperatively with supervisors, other residents, and all other health care team members. 

Intellectual Abilities

  • Residents 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.  Residents must be able to develop habits of life-long learning. 
  • Residents must be able to develop sound clinical judgment and exhibit well-integrated knowledge about the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness within their scope of practice.  They must be comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity in clinical situations, and seek the advice of others when appropriate. 

Behavioral, Social and Professional Abilities

  • Residents must possess the emotional maturity and stability to function effectively under stress that is inherent in medicine and to adapt to circumstances which are unpredictable or that change rapidly.  They must be able to interact productively, cooperatively and in a collegial manner with individuals of differing personalities and backgrounds, and be an active contributor to the process of providing health care by demonstrating the ability to engage in teamwork and team building.  They must demonstrate the ability to identify and set priorities in patient management and in all aspects of their professional work.  They must be punctual and perform work in a timely manner. 
  • Residents must be capable of empathetic response to individuals in many circumstances and be sensitive to social and cultural differences. 
  • Residents must exhibit an ethic of professionalism, including the ability to place others' needs ahead of their own.  They must exhibit compassion, empathy, altruism, integrity, responsibility and tolerance, as well as demonstrate the ability to exercise the requisite judgment required in the practice of medicine.