Join us this Friday, Nov 7, 12-1pm, MGH 024, speaker Michael Nguyen, "Are We Preparing Future Physicians to Work with People with Disabilities?"

Friday, November 7, 12-1pm, MGH 024, Michael Nguyen, “Are We Preparing Future Physicians to Work with People with Disabilities?”

     Michael Nguyen is a second-year medical student who has an MPH and worked several years in healthcare research at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Michael attended the Society for Disability Studies conference in Minneapolis where he shared his experiences of medicine and disability. Next he will present at the American Public Health Association conference. His work is supported by a UW Disability Studies Program Harlan Hahn grant.

Accessibility: We will have CART captioning and ASL interpreting at this event. The space is wheelchair accessible. We ask that you please be fragrance free.

To request another disability accommodation, contact the Disability Services Office at: 206.543.6450 (voice), 206.543.6452 (TTY), 206.685.7264 (fax), or email at

Please join us!


Disability Studies scholars have long critiqued medical professionals’ perspective on and interactions with people with disabilities.  They discuss how some physicians still view people with disabilities as asexual, unemployable, or pitiable.  Scholars also highlight how some clinicians go as far as suggesting assisted dying, despite patients’ affirmation of a high quality-of-life.  For many physicians, disability continues to be viewed as a medical failure.
Reflecting on my experiences as a first-year medical school student, my coursework has centered on the medical model of disability – where the biophysiological mechanism of disease and disability are emphasized, rather than social model of disability.  The only opportunity to learn about disability rights is through internships and involvement with advocacy organizations.  To gain this exposure, I trained at a rehabilitation hospital.  By working with Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation physicians, I have come to recognize how people with disabilities are often ignored and disregarded within medical education and the healthcare system.
Exposure to patients with disabilities is necessary to provide quality medical care.  While we have learned to do a physical exam with nondisabled patients, we would gain a more comprehensive skill set learning from people with disabilities.  Recognizing the appropriate accommodations needed to best serve people with disabilities at this early stage in medical education will help aspiring physicians to challenge their own notions of normalcy.
Without early exposure to people with disabilities, we are inadequately prepared to address the needs of this community, especially given the growing number of the population who may experience disability during their lifetime.  Thus, I recommend that medical education provide students with the opportunities to have more interaction with people with disabilities by integrating chronic care and disability studies into the pre-clinical years of the curriculum.

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