Disability in Medicine: The Every Day Struggle


Medicine isn’t always kind to its disabled practitioners, but let’s change that.

In 2023, a group of Iowa med students founded our chapter of the Medical Students With Disabilities and Chronic Illness, a group “working to remove barriers for students and professionals with disabilities, increasing representation of diverse perspectives in medicine.” M1 Holly Hemann, MD/PhD student Faith Prochaska and PA1s Olivia Quinby and Julie Vuong discuss their lived experiences as students navigating disability and chronic illness. They illuminate the essential support systems, the process of securing necessary accommodations, and the powerful sense of community among students facing similar challenges. And they look critically at how these personal experiences enrich the medical profession and underscore the urgent need for inclusivity in medical training. Their personal stories of coping with PTSD, ADHD, daily vestibular migraines, and celiac disease show how these experiences are shaping their medical journey. They also discuss what colleagues present and future can do (or must do better) to understand and support those who face barriers due to their physical and mental conditions.

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