Doctors With Disabilities

October 6, 2010

Dr. Sam Simms, a quadriplegic doctor, posing in his wheelchair with his service dog, Robbie.

Dr. Sam Simms, St. Mary's Health Center, Jefferson City, Missouri

When we are in a hospital, we look to doctors to heal us, and nurses to keep us comfortable. Whatever condition we have that lands us in the hospital is always something that disables us, temporarily or permanently, and makes it challenging for us to live the life we take for granted. So, we trust and hope that the doctor, with all his/her training and knowledge, will diagnose what is troubling us, make us better, and send us on our way.

What if you are scheduled for brain surgery next week, and the surgeon who is performing the operation has a hearing loss?

What if you are lying on a bed in the ER, doubled over with pain in your abdomen, when the attending doctor comes over on her wheelchair and checks your vitals?

Predictably, most patients will not care about the doctor’s physical disability, as long as they know the doctor has substantial experience and achieved his deserved place in the operating room, ER, or hospital ward because of what he has done in the past.  Unfortunately , there are some hospitals that enforce policies which make it very challenging for doctors with disabilities to effectively carry out their work.

A wonderful article in the most recent issue of New Mobility profiles some doctors with disabilities who succeed at what they do, and takes a look at a U.S. medical system that still presents too many barriers that keep capable doctors with physical disabilities out of medicine.” Read on…

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