Slate Laments 'Lack' of Disabled Doctors, Glosses Over Patient Safety
Are there too few disabled doctors? My history working in patient care was as a Navy corpsman, so obviously I encountered no disabled doctors during my time. After all, these were military doctors who had to meet military standards that precluded disabled people from serving.
However, the civilian world is very different. Those who are disabled and have their MDs are more than welcome. Unfortunately, Slate.com doesn't think there are enough of them, and of course, it's because of discrimination:
The struggle for representation in medicine starts with who gets to go to medical school in the first place. For most aspiring doctors, medical school admission is merely a matter of excelling at coursework, research, volunteering, the Medical College Admission Test, personal essays, and interviews. Even then it’s tough going -- most medical schools have admission rates in the low single digits.
But students with disabilities have an additional obstacle after they’ve been admitted: They must prove to the school’s administrators that they can meet the physical requirements of medical education.
These expectations, codified into “technical standards,” are often broken down into five essential functions: observation, communication, motor function, conceptual and quantitative analysis, and social skills. The exact standards vary by school and curriculum. For example, MD candidates at one school may have to personally deliver 10 babies to pass an obstetrics rotation while candidates at another only have to assist. This idiosyncrasy wouldn’t matter to most applicants, but it can disqualify someone with limited arm mobility, no matter how dazzling their application.
After getting in on the strength of their grades, scores, and essays, students can find themselves caught between forfeiting their admission and signing a document pledging they can perform medical procedures with accommodations that they don’t know for sure that they’ll receive.
On the surface, that does seem troubling, especially since changing the standard for one student may not meet the criteria of a "reasonable accommodation" under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
However, there's something else that needs to be understood -- those standards aren't put in place with an intent to exclude anyone.