Under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, medical schools are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities if they meet the admission requirements. If they accept federal funding, for example, for research, schools must make every reasonable effort to accommodate eligible disabled applicants. Many believe that medical schools dilute the curriculum or give up competencies in order to graduate students with disabilities. However, this is not true - students with disabilities must meet the same academic and clinical requirements as their non-disabled peers.
When applying to medical school, students with disabilities should feel safe disclosing their disability and seek reasonable accommodations to have the same opportunities to participate in the medical school experience. For example, a test taker with a learning disability may receive more time for the MCAT or have a private room to take the test. The type and severity of disabilities that applicants have varies widely, so it is important to consider all factors when applying to medical school. The AAMC shares stories of current students with both visible and invisible disabilities, such as Jeff Mahlum, a wheelchair user, and Emily Hayward, who battled viral encephalitis. These success stories demonstrate that pre-medical students with disabilities can be competitive candidates in the medical field.
In fact, nearly 3% of medical students report having disabilities.Dr. Meeks, a disability researcher at the University of Michigan Medical School, talks about common misconceptions and what aspiring doctors should know. It is important to remember that each medical school has its own procedure that students must follow when requesting accommodations, so it is essential to check with schools to find out when and how to approach this process. Thanks to advances in technology, medical students and doctors with disabilities have access to resources that were not available to previous generations, making disability an obstacle to becoming a doctor now more than ever. That said, it is important to remember that there are no legal obstacles to people with disabilities being able to become doctors.