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Acad Med. 2019 Jan;94(1):17-19. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002435.

You Belong in the Room: Addressing the Underrepresentation of Physicians With Physical Disabilities.

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C.M. Schwarz was a medical student, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary, at the time this was written. She is now a first-year resident, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. M. Zetkulic is assistant professor of medicine and program director, Internal Medicine, Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall, Nutley, New Jersey.


In this Invited Commentary, the authors use personal experiences to highlight how obstacles for qualified candidates with physical disabilities persist in medical education, especially at entry to and early stages of training. In an era when medical schools and residency programs advocate principles of diversity and inclusion, it is estimated that medical students with physical disabilities still comprise less than 1% of learners. The authors present four constructive actions to address the underrepresentation of individuals with physical disabilities in medical schools: (1) acknowledging biases, (2) building networks, (3) reassessing the undifferentiated model of medical education, and (4) advocating the advantages of physicians with disabilities. Supporting trainees and practicing physicians with physical disabilities requires pragmatic evaluation of the essential functions of contemporary medical education, as well as lateral thinking to approach clinical work in innovative ways.

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