Alternative Pathways for Prospective Medical Students with Disabilities

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There are few doctors with disabilities in Australia. A study completed by a Australian medical school demonstrated that less than 2 percent of students identified themselves as having a disability in their yearly cohort. Disability is poorly represented in the medical profession. And this is not okay.

Students with a disability are disadvantaged in several ways by the current admission requirements for entry into medical school. The GAMSAT and UMAT tests (run by ACER) and selections interviews which are current pre-requirements acts as a significant barrier for the following reasons:

  • Whilst ACER does make adjustments for students with disabilities, these adjustments are not sufficient for students with physical and learning disabilities.
  • Possible discrimination may occur during the interviews

Even though there is peer-reviewed research evidence indicating that that there is poor correlation between a person's GAMSAT score and their actual performance in medical school, it is still used as a barrier.

Outsiders may overtly rationalize and express that this means the student cannot learn medical theory yet in the actual education setting, a student will have appropriate resources and tools to manage their studies. Furthermore, in the clinical environment, one would expect that doctors are rarely confronted with new information. Even when they are, they are still within their baseline comfort of knowledge. 

We are not seeking a easier way in. We believe we are intellectually capable and motivated people who will succeed in a medical career. We will prove this by showing our academic transcripts that we have achieved high scores and are capable of completing a medical degree. We will also provide medical evidence that despite our disabilities, we are functional members of society that can successfully perform in a medical career. Most importantly, our personal experience gives us a distinct quality of empathy and understanding as doctors of the future and this would provide invaluable insight to our future patients and colleagues.

There needs to be at least ten places (per a medical school) set aside for aspiring medical students with disabilities. Moreover, students with disabilities must be assessed and admitted with similar criteria as the indigenous students.

I pledge on behalf of, students with disabilities, a national and collaborative initiative to establish a alternative pathway and/or entry scheme for aspiring medical students with disabilities.

Let us stand up for justice and equality and make our mark today by saying yes to increasing access and inclusion.