Should I disclose this impairment when I apply?

Should I disclose my visual impairment?

  • Yes

    Votes: 2 9.1%
  • No

    Votes: 16 72.7%
  • Write about it in PS

    Votes: 4 18.2%

  • Total voters
    22

TallPreMed

Most people on here are nice. I'm not.
Oct 2, 2015
515
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  1. Pre-Medical
    Insomnia hits hard tonight and this has been on my mind for awhile!
    I have a visual impairment- congenital nystagmus (CN)- where essentially my eyes shake or are often described as "wobbly", which affects my vision slightly when it comes to extremely small writing (which many people struggle with honestly). The range of impairment goes from barely noticeable to legally blind, and luckily I am on the light end of the spectrum.
    I am allowed to drive and have no restrictions- not even night restrixrions (which many CN drivers are unable to do), and play sports I probably shouldn't, like softball, volleyball, and basketball (even played varsity in college).

    I don't need large print (although I do prefer it) and I currently don't use any accommodations when it comes to my academics (extra time, enlarged print, digital textbooks etc)

    The only physical impairment I really have is when I am looking through a microscope (well documented that this is an issue for most with CN and for extensive use accommodations with certain microscopes can be made), or are in a classroom with dim lighting and the text isn't in high contrast.

    That being said, while it does barely affect me, my eyes shake more when I am tired, angry, or nervous. So naturally I'm concerned that should I apply and be invited somewhere, my interviewers might be a bit freaked if they see my eyes shaking. I've had some pretty rude adults (even as a kid) bring it up before. I actually ended up working at a camp for the blind as a nature counselor(/CNA) for two summers in college because my brother and I both have it and the camp really liked having counselors who had low vision/were blind.

    I'm worried that if I disclose my visual impairment status on my application that it will give me one strike already when adcoms are looking over it. It's never really been a problem for me and I hardly notice it at this point because I unconsciously adapt to any situation I'm in that calls for it. My fiancé didn't even know until about 6 months into our relationship simply because I forgot to talk about it. I have creeped on nystagmus forums and have found that a few people have attended medical school with CN, so I don't see it being an issue with the technical requirements. So should I include this somewhere on my application? Or maybe talk about it in my personal statement?

    Apologies for the lengthy post. I'm quite long winded tonight.
     

    getdown

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      Insomnia hits hard tonight and this has been on my mind for awhile!
      I have a visual impairment- congenital nystagmus (CN)- where essentially my eyes shake or are often described as "wobbly", which affects my vision slightly when it comes to extremely small writing (which many people struggle with honestly). The range of impairment goes from barely noticeable to legally blind, and luckily I am on the light end of the spectrum.
      I am allowed to drive and have no restrictions- not even night restrixrions (which many CN drivers are unable to do), and play sports I probably shouldn't, like softball, volleyball, and basketball (even played varsity in college).

      I don't need large print (although I do prefer it) and I currently don't use any accommodations when it comes to my academics (extra time, enlarged print, digital textbooks etc)

      The only physical impairment I really have is when I am looking through a microscope (well documented that this is an issue for most with CN and for extensive use accommodations with certain microscopes can be made), or are in a classroom with dim lighting and the text isn't in high contrast.

      That being said, while it does barely affect me, my eyes shake more when I am tired, angry, or nervous. So naturally I'm concerned that should I apply and be invited somewhere, my interviewers might be a bit freaked if they see my eyes shaking. I've had some pretty rude adults (even as a kid) bring it up before. I actually ended up working at a camp for the blind as a nature counselor(/CNA) for two summers in college because my brother and I both have it and the camp really liked having counselors who had low vision/were blind.

      I'm worried that if I disclose my visual impairment status on my application that it will give me one strike already when adcoms are looking over it. It's never really been a problem for me and I hardly notice it at this point because I unconsciously adapt to any situation I'm in that calls for it. My fiancé didn't even know until about 6 months into our relationship simply because I forgot to talk about it. I have creeped on nystagmus forums and have found that a few people have attended medical school with CN, so I don't see it being an issue with the technical requirements. So should I include this somewhere on my application? Or maybe talk about it in my personal statement?

      Apologies for the lengthy post. I'm quite long winded tonight.

      Based on your description of the issue, I don't think it will impair you from succeeding in medical school. Also, since it's not a physical limitation that could ultimately impact your ability to interact with patients you don't need to disclose it if you don't want to. There will be a section that asks "do you have any physical limitations that would prohibit you from performing patient care" or something along those lines. In your case, no. However, I think that it's a unique enough challenge that you can definitely spin into your PS plus a very fun and easy convo topic during interviews.

      You might have a little more challenge when you're studying for long periods of time (like Step1) but short breaks might help. Also, don't know how those 24+ hour calls will effect you in residency. But anyone that's been up 24+ hours will probably be seeing sideways anyway so it shouldnt be a problem.
       
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      texan2414

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        Don't need to disclose it really as its not as disabling as other problems - As far as incorporating it into Personal Statement, if it impacted your decision to choose medicine for a career, then definitely include this experience. You can also maybe use one of the optional essays for this?
         
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        Mansamusa

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          I feel like I had to check a box many times that says I have no disability or condition that will require accommodation in school. It sounds like you would if you need accommodations for the microscope.

          I don't know if it would better to tell the schools post-acceptance about the accommodation or to check the box (maybe I didn't have to check this until after accepted? Can't remember)
           

          TallPreMed

          Most people on here are nice. I'm not.
          Oct 2, 2015
          515
          819
          Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
          1. Pre-Medical
            I feel like I had to check a box many times that says I have no disability or condition that will require accommodation in school. It sounds like you would if you need accommodations for the microscope.

            I don't know if it would better to tell the schools post-acceptance about the accommodation or to check the box (maybe I didn't have to check this until after accepted? Can't remember)
            I actually made this to use for the microscope using my iPhone and the case. My micro professor told me it's ok to use it. Not sure how it would go over in med school. It's way less expensive and cumbersome than an adaptive microscope or an LCD Digital microscope.
            image.jpeg
             
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            TallPreMed

            Most people on here are nice. I'm not.
            Oct 2, 2015
            515
            819
            Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
            1. Pre-Medical
              Based on your description of the issue, I don't think it will impair you from succeeding in medical school. Also, since it's not a physical limitation that could ultimately impact your ability to interact with patients you don't need to disclose it if you don't want to. There will be a section that asks "do you have any physical limitations that would prohibit you from performing patient care" or something along those lines. In your case, no. However, I think that it's a unique enough challenge that you can definitely spin into your PS plus a very fun and easy convo topic during interviews.

              You might have a little more challenge when you're studying for long periods of time (like Step1) but short breaks might help. Also, don't know how those 24+ hour calls will effect you in residency. But anyone that's been up 24+ hours will probably be seeing sideways anyway so it shouldnt be a problem.

              Very true, and I've learned how to adapt when studying for long periods of time as it does affect my vision (different colors for contrast, bolder text etc). I'll just have to be a little more alert when driving home after those long calls... Or maybe take the bus
               

              gyngyn

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                @Goro @gyngyn do you mind if I ask what your take is on an applicant who has a visual/hearing impairment? I've read a couple articles and have found generally mixed reactions in regards to it.
                As long as you can meet technical standards with reasonable accommodation, you may as well.
                 

                Goro

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                  Agree with Tex and the wise gyngyn.

                  Med schools still use microscopes? We're all digital slides at my school.

                  Don't need to disclose it really as its not as disabling as other problems - As far as incorporating it into Personal Statement, if it impacted your decision to choose medicine for a career, then definitely include this experience. You can also maybe use one of the optional essays for this?
                   
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                  holidayprincess

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                  Aug 30, 2015
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                    When I was accepted, the school gave us an option to request accommodations through the AD Act. The process was very straight-forward and they were really great about it. The faculty made it clear that they're not trying to prevent disabled students from getting into med school (technical standards or no). Instead, they wanted to see just how creative they could be to get meet certain disabilities head-on and level the playing field.

                    If vision's an issue, better to have it documented and not need the accommodation than to wait until it becomes a problem.

                    Good luck! :highfive:
                     

                    TallPreMed

                    Most people on here are nice. I'm not.
                    Oct 2, 2015
                    515
                    819
                    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
                    1. Pre-Medical
                      When I was accepted, the school gave us an option to request accommodations through the AD Act. The process was very straight-forward and they were really great about it. The faculty made it clear that they're not trying to prevent disabled students from getting into med school (technical standards or no). Instead, they wanted to see just how creative they could be to get meet certain disabilities head-on and level the playing field.

                      If vision's an issue, better to have it documented and not need the accommodation than to wait until it becomes a problem.

                      Good luck! :highfive:
                      Thanks! It is documented. We actually didn't realize that what I have is considered an impairment (or in my brothers' case, disability) until my junior year of college in 2011. By that point my academic habits had already been formed, I was given documentation so I could use accommodations if needed, but for the most past, using accommodations for me is a harder adaptation than to not use them.
                       
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                      holidayprincess

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                      Aug 30, 2015
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                        Thanks! It is documented. We actually didn't realize that what I have is considered an impairment (or in my brothers' case, disability) until my junior year of college in 2011. By that point my academic habits had already been formed, I was given documentation so I could use accommodations if needed, but for the most past, using accommodations for me is a harder adaptation than to not use them.

                        clearly, you'd know best!

                        for me, I didn't want to get into a position I'd never been in before (like on rotations) and not have access to an accommodation if I needed one quickly. the documentation procedure at the school pretty much (discreetly) guarantees that.

                        best of luck!
                         

                        hmockingbird

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                          I feel like I had to check a box many times that says I have no disability or condition that will require accommodation in school. It sounds like you would if you need accommodations for the microscope.

                          I don't know if it would better to tell the schools post-acceptance about the accommodation or to check the box (maybe I didn't have to check this until after accepted? Can't remember)

                          You don't have to sign that until you are accepted. It is illegal in the US to ask about disability on the application form. Also, the statement you have to sign is that you can perform the technical standards WITH or without accommodations so there really isn't a reason OP couldn't sign that. (It's also illegal to not provide accommodations for a disability so they can't ask you to sign that you have none!)

                          There is no reason to disclose while applying unless you want to write about it in your statement because it influenced your career choice, or you want to disclose when talking about your volunteer experience at camp. But there's no obligation to disclose. Once you get in, you'll probably want to ask for accommodations for the microscope.

                          Also if someone brings it up during the interview you can just say something vague but positive like that you have a mild visual impairment that is under control.
                           
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