Should you disclose a disability on medical school applications?

Should you disclose a disability on medical school applications?


Disclosing a disability on any job application can be a difficult decision. It’s even more complicated when it comes to medical school. In an already competitive process, how do medical schools evaluated students with disabilities is a very appropriate question to ask.

A recent study from Lisa Meeks at the University of Michigan showed that in three years, the percentage of students with disabilities rose from 2.7% to 4.6% at the 64 medical schools that responded to the survey. 

Link –> More Medical Students Are Disclosing Their Disabilities, and Schools Are Responding, Study Finds

But does this mean that you should report a disability on your medical school application? There are several factors to consider before you do so potentially:

1. Does the disability prevent you from taking part in the doctor-patient relationship?

2. Does the disability hamper your ability to interact and correspond with colleagues and the healthcare team?

3. Does the disability prevent you from maintaining the knowledge you need to practice medicine SAFELY?

If the answer to any of the questions above is yes, you need to understand how this plays into your application and a medical school’s goals of recruiting a class and training physicians. That is not to say you cannot apply or would not perhaps make a great physician, but this is undoubtedly a situation where you’d want to discuss in detail with a counselor or MedSchoolCoach advisor before putting in an application. 
There are several disabilities that you may want to consider revealing to medical schools, but each requires thought before doing so. These could include:
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • ADHD
  • Physical limitations such as paralysis, deafness or blindness

You can use your disability as a strength. 

Just because you have a disability does not mean that your application will be seen in a negative light. That’s right, you can actually use a disability as a strength. Perhaps it is something you have overcome, a challenging situation or something that actually helps you relate better to patients and their families. In all those cases, it’s possible to frame the disability as an actual strength rather than a weakness.

Remember, Your disability may enhance your chances of acceptance if it is positioned correctly. Physicians are not homogenous; having a disability may bring a unique perspective to patient care. 

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