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More medical students disclosing disabilities :

February 20, 2020

The percentage of medical students who disclosed that they have a disability increased from 2016 to 2019, and most received accommodations from their schools, a recent study showed.

Researchers surveyed U.S. allopathic medical schools in 2016 and again in 2019 about the number of students with disabilities, the types of disabilities students disclosed and the accommodations the school provided to those students.

For schools that responded in both years, the number of students disclosing a disability increased from 2.9% to 4.9%.

“A constellation of events has likely contributed to the increase in disclosure,” lead author Lisa M. Meeks, Ph.D., M.A., said in a news release. “This may include increased awareness of the availability of accommodations, an increase in the number of students who have received accommodations throughout their education and are comfortable with their identities as a person with a disability, the creation of educational resources by AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges), and the diligent efforts of medical education programs to improve accessibility.”

In 2019, the most commonly reported disabilities were psychological (e.g., anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorder), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and chronic health disabilities.

The 2019 results also showed about 93% of students received classroom or clinical accommodations such as extra time to take tests, notetakers, textbooks in alternate formats, modified clinical procedures and release from overnight call.

The percentage of students disclosing psychological disabilities increased from 20.4% in 2016 to 32.3% in 2019, while chronic health disabilities increased from 13.3% to 18%. Meanwhile, those with learning disabilities decreased from 21.4% to 18.3%, and ADHD decreased from 32.3% to 30.4%.

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