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World: For aspiring doctors with disability, many medical schools come up short

Wed, 14 Mar 2018, 12:43 PM

Elana Gordon, NPR, 13 March 2018
Being a medical student or resident is hard enough, but what if you have a disability that adds to the challenge?
One medical resident with a physical disability was about a year and a half into training when the medical institution finally installed an automatic door he needed. Another student faced frustrations when arranging accommodations for taking tests, with it seeming like the medical school was "making up rules along the way." When another resident with a disability first sought support, the disability representative was allegedly unfamiliar with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
These firsthand experiences are documented in a report issued Tuesday by the Association of American of Medical Colleges and the University of California, San Francisco about the accessibility and inclusion of students and doctors with disabilities in the medical field. The culture and the environment surrounding disabilities varies across the board, it found, with some places doing far better than others.
About 1,500 medical students in the U.S. have disclosed a disability and receive formal accommodations. That's about 2.7 percent of students, according to the report, and represents a lower percentage than other undergraduate programs, which average at about 11 percent for students who have disclosed a disability. The report found that in medicine especially, many students hide their disability out of a real "fear of judgment, bias, and skewed perception of ability."
Medicine is an incredibly tough and competitive field where, historically, doctors have been viewed as superhumans, operating at the highest physical and mental capacity at all hours of the day and night, performing miracles and saving lives. There's an expectation of perfection.
But doctors are human, too.
A lack of understanding about disabilities can create big challenges for otherwise qualified and talented future doctors, says Lisa Meeks, co-author of the report and a disabilities expert at the University of Michigan Medical School. Yet some schools may not even be aware of what they could be doing to foster a more inclusive environment.
Read: the full article at NPR

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