Technical Standards Requirement

Essential abilities and characteristics required for completion of the PharmD degree

February 2013

Upon admission, admitted students will affirm that they have reviewed and agree that they are capable of meeting the School of Pharmacy’s technical standards with or without accommodations.


The Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree requires a mastery of a coherent body of knowledge and skills. The essential abilities and characteristics required for completion of this degree consist of certain minimum physical and cognitive abilities and sufficient mental and emotional stability to assure that candidates for admission, promotion, and graduation are able to complete the entire course of study and participate fully in all aspects of training. The School of Pharmacy intends for its graduates to become competent and compassionate pharmacists who are capable of meeting all requirements for pharmacist licensure and entering pharmacy practice, including that associated with post-graduate training. The avowed intention of an individual student to practice only a narrow part of clinical pharmacy, or to pursue a non-clinical career, does not alter the requirement that all pharmacy students complete and achieve competence in the full curriculum required by the faculty. For purposes of this document and unless otherwise defined, the term "candidate" means candidates for admission to pharmacy school as well as enrolled pharmacy students who are candidates for promotion and graduation.

The School of Pharmacy has an ethical responsibility for the safety of patients with whom students and graduates will come in contact. Although students learn and work under the supervision of the faculty, students interact with patients throughout their pharmacy school education. The academic and technical standards established by the faculty require that all students accepted by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Pharmacy possess the physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral abilities that insure they will be able to complete all aspects of the curriculum. All applicants are held to the same academic and technical standards of admission and training, with reasonable accommodations provided as needed for students with disabilities. Although the School of Pharmacy will engage in an interactive process with applicants with disabilities, the School reserves the right not to admit any applicant who, upon completion of the interactive process is determined not to be able to meet the Technical Standards set forth below, with or without reasonable accommodations. The essential abilities and characteristics described herein are also referred to as technical standards. They are described below in several broad categories including: observation; communication; motor function; interpretative, conceptual and quantitative abilities; and social and behavioral skills. In addition to these, candidates must have the physical and emotional stamina to function in a competent manner in settings that may involve heavy workloads and stressful situations. Delineation of technical standards is required for the accreditation of U.S. schools of pharmacy by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. The following abilities and characteristics are defined as technical standards, and are requirements for admission, promotion, and graduation.

Individuals who are currently impaired by alcohol or other substances are not suitable candidates for admission, promotion, or graduation. Those individuals who would constitute a direct threat to the health or safety of others are not considered suitable candidates for admission.

Technical standards

  1. Observation: Candidates must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic and pharmaceutical sciences. Candidates must be able to accurately observe a patient’s condition, must be able to obtain a history and perform appropriate assessments and to correctly integrate the information derived from these observations to develop and implement an accurate and therapeutically appropriate plan. They must be able to prepare medications for dispensing to patients and observe the activities of technical staff operating under their supervision in accordance with State law. These skills require the functional use of vision, verbal, hearing and somatic sensations.
  2. Communication: Candidates must be able to communicate with, understand, and observe patients in a clinical setting. They must be able to record information accurately and clearly, communicate fluently in and understand the English language, and communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. Candidates must also be able to communicate effectively with other members of the healthcare team in oral and written form, and in patient care settings in which decisions based upon those communications may be made rapidly. They must be able to effectively communicate with and supervise technical support staff.
  3. Motor function: Candidates must possess the motor function sufficient to direct and supervise the accurate compounding and preparation of medications for dispensing to patients. In addition they must have the motor skills to teach medication administration, including the monitoring and counseling of patients regarding their medication. They must be able to use computer-based information systems. They must adhere to universal precaution measures and meet safety standards applicable to inpatient and outpatient settings and other clinical activities.
  4. Interpretative, conceptual and quantitative abilities: Candidates must have effective and efficient learning techniques and habits that allow mastery of the pharmacy curriculum. They must be able to learn through a variety of modalities including, but not limited to, classroom instruction, small group activities, individual study, preparation and presentation of reports, and use of computer technology. They must be able to memorize, measure, calculate, reason, analyze, synthesize and apply information and concepts. They must also be able to comprehend spatial relationships and three-dimensional models.
  5. 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 sound judgment, and promptly completing all responsibilities attendant to the care of patients. Candidates must understand the legal and ethical aspects of the practice of pharmacy and function within the guidelines established by the law and by the ethical standards of the pharmacy profession. They must be able to relate to patients and their families, colleagues, and other members of the healthcare team with courtesy, maturity, and respect for the dignity of individuals. This requires that they place the welfare of their patients foremost, and demonstrate honesty, integrity, dedication, compassion and nondiscrimination in the care of their patients. They must, at all times, demonstrate the emotional stability to be able to exercise sound judgment, and carry out prompt completion of all of the responsibilities attendant to the care of their patients in a sensitive and effective manner. This sensitivity includes self-examination of personal attitudes, perceptions, and stereotypes in order to avoid potential negative impacts on relationships and patient care. Candidates must be able to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility and professional responsibility to their patients, and to learn to function in an environment of uncertainty, in which changes may occur rapidly and without warning. All of these personal qualities will be assessed during the admissions and educational process. 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.

Criminal background checks will be conducted as part of the admissions process. Additional criminal background checks and/or drug screening tests may be conducted on a for-cause basis in certain clinical settings/locations.

Ability to meet the school of pharmacy’s technical standards

The School of Pharmacy intends for its students and graduates to become competent and compassionate pharmacists who are capable of entering residency training (graduate pharmacy education) and/or pharmacy practice and meeting all requirements for pharmacist licensure.

Equal access to the School of Pharmacy’s educational program

The University of California does not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities who apply for admission to the PharmD degree program or who are enrolled as pharmacy students. Otherwise qualified individuals shall not be excluded from admission or participation in the School of Pharmacy’s educational programs and activities solely by reason of their disability or medical condition. The School of Pharmacy provides reasonable accommodation in its academic programs to qualified individuals with disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is one that does not require substantial program modification or lower academic standards. Learning disabilities are included under this policy.

Should a candidate have or develop a condition that would place patients or others at risk or that would jeopardize his or her ability to complete the doctor of pharmacy degree and pursue professional practice and licensure, the candidate may be denied admission or may be dismissed from school. Should a candidate have or develop a disability that poses a significant risk to the health and safety of patients or others that cannot be addressed with a reasonable accommodation, the candidate may be denied admission or may be dismissed from school.

It is the responsibility of a student with a disability (or a student who develops a disability) and who needs an accommodation to notify Student Disability Services of the disability, and to provide adequate documentation of the general nature and extent of the disability and the functional limitations to be accommodated. A student who has or develops any chronic disease or condition that may affect his or her ability to meet the technical standards will be expected to seek and continue in the care of a qualified health care provider.

The Office of Student and Curricular Affairs will work in conjunction with Student Disability Services in evaluating and responding to all requests. If additional documentation is required regarding the nature and extent of a disability, and/or to assist in determining whether the candidate, with or without accommodation, is able to meet these technical standards, it is the responsibility of the student to cooperate with the Office of Student and Curricular Affairs and Student Disability Services in that process.


This document was developed and based upon the work of experienced pharmacy and medical educators within the University of California system in 2013.