Lisa M. Meeks, Leslie Neal-Boylan
Administrators and faculty in medical, nursing and health science programs are witnessing a substantial increase in the number of students with disabilities entering their programs. Concurrently, the benefits of diversity in healthcare are becoming increasingly apparent and important. Provider-patient concordance is a known mechanism for reducing health care disparities. By developing a workforce that mirrors the patient population, we can appropriately inform disability care, reducing health care disparities while embracing the tenets of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), namely equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for qualified individuals with disabilities. One in five individuals will experience disability at some point in their lives, making this the largest minority in the US. A commitment to disability inclusion for qualified students should be a high-level goal of nursing, medical, and other health science programs. To support this goal, leaders in these areas must develop robust programs and an understanding of the best practices for inclusion. This first-of-its-kind title is designed to help deans, program directors, faculty, student affairs personnel and disability resource professionals thoughtfully plan for the growing population of health-care professionals with disabilities. The content helps stakeholders contextualize disability inclusion in health-care education as a function of social justice and a mechanism of reducing health care disparities for patients. It offers pragmatic advice, grounded in research, best practice, and case law to address the highly nuanced approach to determining and implementing accommodations in a high-stakes clinical environment. Disability as Diversity connects the moving parts necessary to ensure equal access for qualified students and provides a blueprint for crafting policy, proactive messaging, improving climate, adhering to accreditation standards, addressing licensing and board exams, responding to student failure, all while remaining compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and applicable Federal regulations. This text provides educators with the perspectives and skills they need to bring disability inclusion to the forefront of health education.
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