KingCounty

2+ Year Member
Mar 23, 2017
25
8
San Fran
Status
Pre-Medical
Hi everyone,

Just to preface this, please keep conversations civil. I've searched and read many threads, and understand the general consensus is not to disclose a disability. I have talked to directors of disability services offices at top med schools, and it seems that even though their is a plethora of information and overall positive vibe that they support students with disabilities, that the admissions committee doesn't necessarily share that same mindset.

There's always a secondary question that involves a personal challenge or obstacle, or something unique about oneself. These are usually followed by examples, such as being non-traditional, minority, LGBTQ, veteran status, etc.

Does anyone know, specifically those who applied this cycle or in the past, if disclosing their disability (especially a neurological one) on a secondary application question actually played in their favor? I've been mostly applying to schools in liberal cities, and even so, I've only disclosed my journey/conditions to only 1 school out of 20+.

TLDR; what medical schools view disability in a positive light?
 

DokterMom

SDN Gold Donor
Gold Donor
5+ Year Member
Mar 1, 2013
5,284
11,774
Status
Non-Student
It's really got to depend on the disability to some degree -- I'd consider things like how visible it is -- so overcoming a stigma. How disabling it might or might not be to a practicing physician -- tremors? speech disorder? seizures? color blindness? autistic spectrum? If it's more of a "technically this counts as a disability" issue, or one that truly caused more hardships? (ADHD)

Honestly, you're balancing "ability to perform" with "challenge" -- so if you can show it's something you were able to overcome? - Great. Something you've learned to work around? - OK - got proof of the work-around's efficacy? Something where your enhanced abilities and skills can help others? (ASL) - Great.

Will it go so far as to be a net positive? Really hard to say. Can you honestly view/spin it that way?
 
OP
K

KingCounty

2+ Year Member
Mar 23, 2017
25
8
San Fran
Status
Pre-Medical
Thank you so much for your response. That's a problem I've run into, as it technically isn't something I can overcome, but rather, have learned to manage well. I was trying to spin a different view on it, mostly from the perspective of someone who can be empathetic of other stigmatizing issues. Now I am a little hesitant to write about it, since the illness itself is Narcolepsy without cataplexy. I've been on Provigil for a while, and I have been able to function fine. Yet again, I'm deathly afraid of someone skimming over my app and seeing "Nacrolepsy" and think I will be putting my patient's life at risk by collapsing randomly.
 
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strider144

medical shmedical
2+ Year Member
Mar 16, 2017
542
1,046
Status
Medical Student
I disclosed mine on my apps, talking about how my experiences with chronic illness and the degree to which bad experiences were common in the disability community led me towards med school. I now go to a small school that has had multiple visibly disabled grads in the past few years and who knows how many who aren't as visible.

I was very careful with my phrasing, but I chose to disclose under the advice of an adcom member. When people read my story, they see more resilience than limitations.

That said, I did not name my diagnoses, and I probably would recommend that you put it down as 'experience managing a complex illness' instead of saying narcolepsy (and be prepared for any school that accepts you to want to follow up to be sure you can meet their technical standards). Even just calling it a neurological illness... and it doesn't hurt to mention how you learned that with appropriate care, you were capable of doing anything.
 
OP
K

KingCounty

2+ Year Member
Mar 23, 2017
25
8
San Fran
Status
Pre-Medical
I actually watched that last year, as it was forwarded to me by the disability office at my institution. I've reached out and spoken to Dr. Lisa Meeks a couple of times and shared my concerns with her. I'm a re-applicant, and it saddens me that Dr. Meeks has left UCSF for Michigan. I interviewed at UCSF last year, and the school seemed so supportive of students with disabilities. It's tough to gauge the level of support of other schools without actually interviewing and visiting the offices.

I appreciate the post though WildWing, as I'm sure it'll be a good resource for others in my situation.
 
OP
K

KingCounty

2+ Year Member
Mar 23, 2017
25
8
San Fran
Status
Pre-Medical
Strider144

Thank you for sharing your experience. For the one school that I submitted an app to this season discussing my illness, I was indeed very vague and said it was a chronic medical issue. If you don't mind, could you PM me the school that you attend? I would love to send in an application (if I haven't already).
 
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