Quadriplegic acceptance into medical school: please help!

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by walderness, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. walderness

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    Most schools do not except quadriplegics into their M.D. program due to technical standards that require that fine motor skills are intact.

    I am a perfect candidate except the fact that I am a quadriplegic (I'm allowed some immodesty due to the fact that I'm in a wheelchair).

    Albert Einstein is the only school I know that does not hold applicants to the standard.

    But I need to know pronto of many other schools that may be lax in this respect. I've been in contact with AMCAS and other resources but ended up with little guidance.

    Help! I want to send in my application as quickly as possible. Thank you in advance.
     
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  3. paradocs we are

    paradocs we are In love with you

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    Unfortunately I don't know of any school names but I wish you luck in your app!
     
  4. ejay286

    ejay286 Member

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    I know of an internal medicine doctor that is in a wheelchair. He went to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences but I'm not sure if he was in the wheelchair while he attended medical school. Not trying to be to personal but do you have any use of your arms at all? I would think this would be a large factor.
     
  5. bcat85

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    Probably should have gotten on this a little earlier.. but good luck. I hope it works out for you.
     
  6. walderness

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    The quadriplegia diagnosIs simply means impairment in all four limbs. I am a C7 quadriplegic, meaning I only have missing hand function but full arm function. I'm not blazing any trails here... many quad docs. not too many were quads before they went to med school however.

    Quadriplegic's actually have the potential to be way better doctors than our able-bodied counterparts when it comes to spinal cord injury medicine
     
  7. walderness

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    I've been way on top of this for quite some time, even for being injured only a year. Your life gets quite busy when you're trying to rehab. I'm just looking for some last-ditch advice.
     
  8. ejay286

    ejay286 Member

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    Any chance of regaining functionality?
     
  9. walderness

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    No, unfortunately, it's a complete injury, meaning no signals are making it past my level of injury. The only return I have gotten is my right tricep, bumping me from a C6 to a C7. This is a big deal, actually.

    The one year mark is the informal cut off for functional return. But I have enough to be a good doc. they've graduated doctors with less function, actually.
     
  10. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Agreed. While the first two years of med school wouldn't be impossible for a quadriplegic, a school would have to be totally willing to revamp its clinical years to allow someone without use of arms to succeed.

    In third year all you are doing is using your arms and legs. You are holding retractors during surgery, and maybe throwing a stitch or staple or two. You are putting in peripheral lines, pulling drains, taking down bandages. You are fetching info from the charts for the residents during rounds. You are helping move patients onto and off of stretchers, or flipping them to see if they have bed sores. You are performing physical exams which generally involve palpation and percussion and manipulation of body parts. You are performing DREs. You are walking around the hospital, up and down stairs and from room to room to discuss each patient. Someone who doesn't participate in these things isn't really getting a clinical year med school education. While medicine is cerebral in theory, it really isn't in practice.

    I know one person who was wheelchair bound and got through med school with pretty significant accommodations by administration, but he had full use of his arms, and still ultimately was dissuaded from considering quite a few residency paths given his limitations and the likelihood of failure.

    As a quad, what do you contemplate doing as a physician? If it's just an issue of a thirst for learning, best to do some graduate science program where your disability won't really impede your path.
     
  11. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    I would suggest you contact schools specifically with regards to their technical standards policies. I glanced at the policy for my school and it looks like it would not support a quadrapalegic applying.

    However, if you contact a school in advance, they might give you a better read on their policy. Explain your functionality and they can advise you whether or not you should apply and if they might bend their technical standards for you.
     
  12. walderness

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    Don't worry, I know what I'm doing.

    I have talked to five different quadriplegics who are physicians. I've also shadowed one. They do just fine in the physiatry field. In fact, I think they are better than their able-bodied counterparts.

    Most technical standards are outdated. There is a movement to change these technical standards in order to get a more diverse population of physicians. My hands and fingers are not required in my desired career path as a physician.

    Unfortunately, there were always be naysayers.

    My intent in starting this thread was to find out if anyone knew of any other medical schools, except Albert Einstein, that has admitted quadriplegic in the past. Any help?
     
  13. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    I'm pretty sure most physiatry (PM&R) residencies require a preliminary year (an internship year in medicine or surgery). Sounds like a lot of places that are going to have to agree to make accomodations before you get to your target job. And most of the physiatrists I know do a lot of physical examination and manipulation of their patients, often working them out on customized gym equipment; I would have pegged this as one of the more "hands on" non-surgical fields. But I'll take your word for it you've done your research and it can be done. Good luck.
     
  14. walderness

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    You're right, the physical medicine component of the field is relatively hands-on. And there are standards that everyone has to meet across the board. It's going to require a lot of accommodation. But it's doable and it has been done....and I want to do it.

    The trails of the blazed already, though, thank God.
     
  15. walderness

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    I'm using a voice-activated software which is why some things I type sound funny, just FYI...
     
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  17. DoctaJay

    DoctaJay bone breaker
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    I glanced through Loma Linda's book and it seems like they wouldn't allow quads either. I don't think that anyone is trying to be a naysayer; we are just giving you first hand advice on what school is like.

    I can have all of the intentions in the world to be a pediatric neurologist, but before I graduate medical school I will have to do all of the clnical rotations that other medical students will have to do. Everyone is put through the same obstacle course, and if you can't complete it, then you won't graduate. Like Law2Doc said, there would have to be an astounding revamp of the curriculum for you to get through your last 2 years without the use of your arms. It would be impossible for you to learn the skills necessary to treat traumas like suturing, chest compressions, etc. I'm not saying that it is not possible for a school to revamp their curriculum, but it would take some time for that to happen.

    I think that everyone appreciates a diverse physician population. If that wasn't the case, their still wouldn't be any minority physicians. But having the use of your arms is very important. Once again, if a school is willing to work with you then fine, but the reality is that you will be missing out on a large part of your training due to the accomodations that the school will have to make.
     
  18. walderness

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    Sorry if I'm beating this to death, but I just wanted to add something.

    I'm a Berkeley graduate, 3.77 GPA, 36Q MCAT, worked my butt off to get all applications in for the 2007 season. Then I woke up from a coma as a quadriplegic. I believe I will still make a very valuable Dr. even if I have to force people to make accommodations for me. I'll have the med school bend their rules, I'll have my residency bend the rules, I'll have the physiatry board bend the rules. Having a doctor advise you when you have the same injury is valuable.

    If you woke up tomorrow as a quadriplegic, and really put yourself there, don't compartmentalize it, how would you react?

    Sorry, just a little passionate about this issue.
     
  19. walderness

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    I have the full use of my arms. I have watched a doctor was my exact same level of injury do complete physical examinations.

    I repeat: many low-level quadriplegics have made successful physiatrists. They graduated medical school. They went through a residency. They now practice medicine. High-level quadriplegics, like Christopher Reeve, would likely have a problem.
     
  20. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    We get what you are saying, but the issue isn't so much about what any individual applicant wants, or how passionate they are. Schools have a mission to fill national/statewide physician demand, and finite budgets and slots with which to do so. So they are faced with the choice of spending a lot of time and money to make accomodations or just fill the slot with someone who can complete the program as is. And residencies the same; actually worse because you would not be able to do things like take overnight call alone, etc so they have to create schedules with one less, which impacts everyone else's schedule. So it's pretty understandable that there would be extremely few programs willing to work to make your dream a reality. That Einstein does is great -- use your quad resources and follow their lead. I doubt you are going to find many other doors open beyond the few they got through. Again, good luck. I totally get and respect your shooting for your dream. But I also see it from the perspective of someone who is going to expect the other residents in my future program to pull their weight in terms of call nights, doing patient related scut, etc.
     
  21. Ooch

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    UCLA graduated a student recently who was a triple amputee (I believe she still had a hand with at least some fingers/functionality), obviously a very different situation, but demonstrates that they're willing to work with serious disabilities. And maybe check with UCSF, they seem like a school which values unique applicants. As the previous poster mentioned, they're state-funded so they might be bound by their standards, but it's worth a shot. Good luck.
     
  22. walderness

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    I've heard what you guys are saying many times before, trust me.

    What gets to me is that when I ask for advice on what med schools will make accommodations, I get in return a million reasons why they shouldn't accept quadriplegics. This was not the intent of my question.

    Besides, there are so many reasons why a quadriplegic would be a beneficial addition to the field of medicine.

    It might help if you guys read this article:

    http://www.aamc.org/newsroom/reporter/feb06/viewpoint.htm
     
  23. Mr Cookie Pants

    Mr Cookie Pants Living the chief life

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    Personally, I think that your brain could be better used for research. We have a PhD in our SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) lab in a chair who obviously has more personal reasons to research.

    I commend your heart, but what will you do during your rotations? How will you round (not move around but all the aspects). Your skills as a diagnostician are not compromised but unfortunately it just does not seem very practical in the present. Sorry for the harsh words. Good Luck.
     
  24. walderness

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    Thanks, ooch, I did hear about the woman at ucla. i havent gotten them explicitly state that they will take a quadriplegic but I am applying there. Too bad it's super competitive. That goes for UCSF as well.

    The problem is that most schools won't address the issue until I've submitted application. So thanks for the help in providing any precedence you're aware.
     
  25. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    This is a discussion forum. You started an interesting discussion. If folks knew an answer to your question they would chime in. But truth of the matter is there simply aren't many quadriplegic's in med school, and so few people on here are going to know of schools that are willing to make such accommodations. You probably already know more about it than anyone on here, based on the role models you have described.
     
  26. walderness

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    It was not supposed to be a condemnation of this forum or of you or of anyone else here. I was expressing frustration that most people in this field have such a staunch view of what defines a doctor. I just don't think that we should use standard medical school curriculum as a stencil to paint a successful doctor.
     
  27. trojanMD

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    Sorry I cant offer you any useful information pertinent to what your seeking, but your story is truly inspiring and I wish you the very best!

    Dont listen to what anyone here says here about stringent standards or limitations. Most people are used to a cookie cutter way of obtaining their goals. You obviously have the mental acuity to become a physician which is of foremost importance. Your determination is certainly admirable and I am sure many schools would be willing to consider you. I truly believe anything is possible if you want it bad enough. Goodluck!
     
  28. aunt ethel

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    In my discussions with pre-med "advisors," fellow applicants, and SDNers, I have heard a billion reasons why someone might not get into medical school: low GPA, low MCAT, good MCAT but low section, good GPA but low major GPA, not enough volunteering, too much of a certain kind of volunteering, too old, too young, blah blah blah blah.

    I get so sick of hearing how it might not work out, when all I want to hear is how to make it work. I'm sorry I don't actually have any specific advice on how you can make it work or which schools may accommodate you, but I encourage you to keep seeking people who will help you make it work. Being realistic is good, but so is being determined and optimistic. Best wishes to you.
     
  29. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy

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    maybe Im just stupid, but how are you typing?
     
  30. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy

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    AECOM has graduated a Quad.....and I think U of Wisc graduated a blind guy?? maybe those two would be good bets.
     
  31. BoredMD

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    :p
     
  32. walderness

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    i type with voice activation mostly but i typed this wth the dip joint of my thumbs. sometimes i type with a pencil + cuff apparatus. i have full arm function and could still give a mean right hook to a discouraging adcommer...just kidding.

    thx for the encouragement ppl and the pm's!
     
  33. HumidBeing

    HumidBeing In Memory of Riley Jane
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    There are different varieties of special software that enable people, who would otherwise be unable, to interface with computers. In the OP's case, one thing he is using is Voice Activated Software.

    There is a range of products that enable people to utilize computers in different ways.
     
  34. walderness

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    thx...quad lag time.

    WI, huh. snow + wheelchair = bad

    but i could be eaten alive in the bronx. i'm no jennifer lopez.
     
  35. 186321

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    Even though he uses that voice recognition software, he could still probably type with his hand (one key at a time).

    To the OP, my brother is a partial quad as well (C6) so I know how hard everyday life can be for you guys.. just wanted to say congrats on your accomplishments so far and good luck!
     
  36. viper2fast505

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    This is what IU has to say about this.

    Motor:
    The applicant/medical student must have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers, be able to perform basic laboratory tests, possess all skills necessary to carry out diagnostic procedures and be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients.

    My bet is that a lot of medical schools have this as a guideline. I hope you have great ECs because to get a school to bend over for you you need to be near perfect.
     
  37. walderness

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    dragon natural speaking = rad

    i know docs who use the med version to dictate (able bodies!) look into it ppl.

    see, i'm a normal person when my passions are not being questioned but i can pull out the sass at the drop of the hat
     
  38. walderness

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    thx, man. yeah, people think we all just want to walk again as the ultimate goal when thats probably the chillest part! bowel, bladder, sex, bone density, sores, blah blah, man it blows sometimes
     
  39. pianola

    pianola MS2

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    Hey, I have no idea whether this will be ANY help or not, but I went to Ball State University for a summer program a few years ago and it looked like the campus had pretty good facilities for students with ambulatory difficulties (as far as I could tell).

    http://www.bsu.edu/mcme/iusmmuncie.asp

    Might be worth checking it out -- I have no idea. Good luck either way.
     
  40. viper2fast505

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    You will be able to connect to patients in a way others cannot. I am starting to wonder if IUs technical standard is justified. But with so many state schools having money trouble I am not sure things will change. I will be honest with you at first I thought no way, what could you do if someone passes out or falls. But there is always a nurse or two around so I really don’t see what can stop you except some outdated rules. Best of luck, I can now say I am on your side.
     
  41. walderness

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    thank you, sir. i assume sir by name.

    i'm telling you check this out. he does a way better job convincing than i do.

    http://www.aamc.org/newsroom/reporte.../viewpoint.htm

    thanks everyone for the assistance. very helpful. i'm running now to eat dinner but will check back agn...

    Brian
     
  42. HumidBeing

    HumidBeing In Memory of Riley Jane
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    OP, I remember you from when you posted earlier in the year. It's plain to see that this something you want to fight for.

    You already know that most schools have their technical requirements. Since this is something that you really do want to find a way around, I'd say go for the schools that you want, and see if you can work your way in. Just because a school has no history of accepting students with specific disabilities, doesn't mean that they won't if they believe that you can be a successful student. A school does get some notoriety and a different kind of teaching challenge. You may have the fortune of finding one who is up to the challenge of breaking new ground for themselves.
     
  43. BoredMD

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    Great advice. :thumbup:
     
  44. walderness

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    i agree. good advice.

    just dont want to miss a school on the prime app that would be open to me...even if its not my #1 choice.
     
  45. bozz

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    Have you looked into any DO schools? From what I hear around here, they are very flexible compared to MD schools.... just wondering if you've looked everywhere, that's all.
     
  46. The Doctor

    The Doctor EMH Mark I

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    Walderness, thank you for sharing your story with us. I cannot imagine what your life has been like since the coma, but I think that it is admirable you are working so hard to achieve your goals despite your disability. I hope you never give up on it and that you experience more healing in the years to come.

    I wanted to share this story for inspiration in case you hadn't read it (another poster mentioned it). A blind medical student graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005. The school made significant accomodations for him, perhaps they would be willing to work with you as well.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7318398

    Good luck. :)
     
  47. 75969

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    I really wish I had an answer for you....I was going to suggest my school because I think they would possibly bend the rules for you, but looked up their requirements and fine motor skills are required. (We have a man with CP who works at our med school, so I thought maybe we would have more lax rules)

    I think it says a lot about your personality that you are still persuing your dreams. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade...right? Best of luck to you, I really hope you find a school that is willing to let you in (and a residency program after that).

    Have you thought about going into rehab or a psychology field? You might have better luck with that and still be able to work on the mental health/coping strategies of people with spinal injuries....i am not in any way trying to dissuade you from the medical field, but just giving alternative suggestions.
     
  48. rom3o

    rom3o New Member

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    Well, I don't have much to add but to wish you good luck. I hope it works out for you.... slightly similar scenario: I wanted to join the US military with a passion to become a Navy Corpsman, but was denied because of hearing loss. I hope your dreams come true.
     
  49. Nevadanteater

    Nevadanteater biochemical engine

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    I'm sure you could make this happen. In fact, it would be great to be your classmate. AECOM is one of my top choices, so maybe we'll see eachother.

    Call schools. Someone will want you, especially with those stats.

    Don't listen to nay-sayers.

    YOU CAN DO THIS.

    A doctor in your situation will be a HUGE asset in many fields - especially with the huge numbers of returning vets from iraq.

    I wish you the best of luck.
     
  50. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    That is a route worth exploring. My experience has been that DO schools generally are more open-minded when viewing the whole applicant.

    also, IIRC, DO grads tend to have a pretty good match rate into PM&R.

    There would be the issue of the manipulation you'd have to be able to perform, but this would be no different than any of the other obstacles you're planning to overcome.

    I think this is an option that is definitely worth looking into.
     
    #48 Depakote, Jun 5, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2008
  51. Cegar

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    Good lord. All the "you can do this!" slathering must get old. I sure do hate when people say that to me.

    At any rate, your disability may or may not disqualify you at some schools. The best measure is to make a call in to the schools you're interested in and talk to them. If they say no you can just apply anyway. You can discuss your situation in the application and/or interview at length.

    It shouldn't be so much of an obstacle as to preclude you from admission to all medical schools straight away.
     
  52. imahustler

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    Apply to Dartmouth. I believe they're one of the few schools that accepted and graduated a quadriplegic in the past.
     

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