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Physicians with Disabilities and the Physician Workforce: A Need to Reassess Our Policies

DeLisa, Joel A. MD, M.S; Thomas, Peter Esq

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: January 2005 - Volume 84 - Issue 1 - p 5-11
doi: 10.1097/01.PHM.0000153323.28396.DE
Analysis: Rapid Communication

DeLisa JA, Thomas P: Physicians with disabilities and the physician workforce: A need to reassess our policies. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2005;84:5–11.

People with disabilities make up about 20% of the population, yet only a tiny fraction of matriculants to medical school have disabilities. Attempts to define core technical standards and competencies have not kept pace with technological changes, diverse specialization, and changing practice options. This has resulted in the inappropriate exclusion of some people with disabilities. Medical schools determine how any qualified applicant, regardless of physical or cognitive ability, can be effectively accommodated and counseled in achieving the most appropriate medical career. A serious effort to redefine the technical standards and core competencies of the 21st century medical education at the undergraduate and graduate levels would likely resolve many of the troubling questions regarding medical students with disabilities. We have made some recommendations to organized medicine for constructing an agenda to address these issues.

From the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey (JAD); Kessler Medical Rehabilitation Research and Education Corporation, West Orange, New Jersey (JAD); and Powers, Pyles, Sutter and Verville, Washington, DC (PT)

Received: October 14, 2004

Accepted: November 5, 2004

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Joel A. DeLisa, MD, M.S., President & CEO, KMRREC, 1199 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange, NJ 07052

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.