Technical Standards

Technical Standards for Successful Completion of the Osteopathic Program at ARCOM

Technical standards are the non-academic skills and abilities necessary for the successful completion of the course of study in osteopathic medicine. The Educational Council on Osteopathic Principles has recommended, and ARCOM has adopted, the following non-academic criteria for admission and continued program participation.


The Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine is committed to the admission and matriculation of all qualified students and does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religion, national origin, age, disability, or veterans’ status.  The College will expect that minimal technical standards be met by all applicants and students as set forth herein.

Technical Standards

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.

Osteopathic physicians utilize touching as part of the osteopathic approach to treatment. As part of the educational process, ARCOM students must be able to tolerate being touched and the touching of others of both sexes in order to acquire the skills necessary for palpation and examination. This palpation is performed in a professional and appropriate manner.  Acquiring the skills to palpate and examine patients requires a student to examine partially or completely disrobed patients of both genders and is mandatory to successful completion of the curriculum at ARCOM.  In physical diagnosis and osteopathic manipulative medicine laboratory experiences, as well as other clinical laboratories where skills are acquired, students are required to participate in the examination of fellow students of both genders who may be partially disrobed.

Students will need to wear attire such as shorts and to partially disrobe for certain laboratory experiences.  These are requirements for all students, regardless of cultural or religious beliefs, in order for the student to acquire the skills necessary to practice medicine.  Students who have any concerns should discuss them with the Office of Student Affairs prior to applying.

While ARCOM is committed to making accommodations that offer the opportunity for student success, ARCOM is also committed to patient safety and assuring a safe and effective environment that does not place patients, students, or others at risk. Each technical standard has been chosen from standards that osteopathic physicians deem necessary for the safe and effective practice of osteopathic medicine.  Applicants who do not meet the technical standards should not apply to ARCOM.

To facilitate the attainment of optimum care and safety, students at the ARCOM 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 the diversity of race, ethnicity, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religion, national origin, age, disability, or veteran’s status.
  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.

ARCOM expects its applicants and students to meet certain minimum technical standards as outlined below. Every applicant and student of ARCOM 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. 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. Reasonable accommodations will be made as required by law; however, the candidate must be able to meet all technical standards with or without reasonable accommodation.  The use of a trained intermediary means that a candidate’s judgment must be mediated by someone else’s power of selection and observation and is not a permissible accommodation.  ARCOM has adopted these standards with due consideration for the safety and well-being of the patients who will be treated by ARCOM graduates in the future.

The specific technical standards 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 also be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients in English.

Applicants and students must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in English, in both oral and written form, with all members of the health care team.

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. Students must have the emotional health to be able to function without the aid of medications that are known to affect intellectual abilities and judgment. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that will be assessed during the admissions and educational processes.  An ability to demonstrate the emotional health necessary for the delivery of quality and safe medical care is mandatory throughout medical school.  ARCOM considers addiction or the participation in substance abuse as a risk for unsafe medical care.

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 the 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.

Student Participation in Special Environments

Education at ARCOM takes place in special environments such as the anatomy lab and clinical facilities that may contain hazardous physical and chemical environments. Working and studying in these special environments may require the student to make an informed decision concerning continued participation because failure to participate in required classes could result in dismissal.  Examples may include, but are not limited to: students who believe they are allergic or sensitive to certain chemicals, students who are pregnant and are concerned about potential hazards to a developing fetus, or students who believe they are immuno-compromised or have increased susceptibility to disease. The student must decide whether to participate prior to beginning school.  For a student who develops problems or becomes pregnant after starting school, their program may be delayed until the student has seen an allergist and has taken appropriate precautions to successfully complete the program, or the pregnancy is completed. If the student is unable to attend, he/she should obtain a medical withdrawal from ARCOM.