Introduction to employment issues
One doctor writes,
"I would like every potential doctor to be viewed as a person, with a set of physical, psychological, and social, strengths and weaknesses. A creative and realistic look at these strengths and weaknesses would be far more productive than rough sorting into ‘normal’ and ‘disabled’ medical students. If this attitude were continued throughout the medical career, then I believe we could achieve major improvements in the health and welfare of our workforce, as well as that of our patients."
From "All doctors are disabled, but some are more disabled than others", Susannah Khatan.
Managing risk is a universal feature of healthcare and regulation in all jurisdictions. Disabled students and doctors must not be discriminated against on the grounds of a presumed risk to patients.
Medical doctors with disabilities, as a result of their high standards of integrity, may fear that others will assume they are less able to do a good job than ‘able’ doctors, and more likely to harm patients.
It is sadly still commonplace for colleagues of doctors with health conditions/disabilities to jump to conclusions about their fitness to practice without seeking to confirm the validity of these concerns prior to making comments or reports on them.
A strategy where we recruit from all under-represented groups is desirable. It is crucial to remove the barriers that continue to deny disabled people equality of outcomes in work and more broadly.
The overwhelming consensus is that a diverse population is better served by a diverse workforce amongst doctors that has had similar experiences as patients, and understand the met and unmet needs of patients.
No health condition or disability, by virtue of its diagnosis, automatically prohibits an individual from studying or practising medicine. Basic principles of fitness-to-practise, including doctors’ awareness of and insight into their own limitations, as well as a willingness to ask for help, alongside the absolute priority of patient safety, still apply.