Prevalence, Plans, and Perceptions: Disability in Family Medicine Residencies

Fam Med. 2021 May;53(5):338-346. doi: 10.22454/FamMed.2021.616867.

Abstract

Background and objectives: Leading medical organizations including the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) espouse the value of a diverse physician workforce, including disability, yet there is a dearth of research about this population in graduate medical education (GME). More information is needed on the prevalence of disability in the resident population, plans to recruit residents with disabilities, and program perceptions of barriers to inclusion. The goal of this study was to better understand the prevalence of disability in the resident population, plans to recruit residents with disabilities, and program perceptions of barriers to disability inclusion and frequency of disability-related complaints and litigation.

Methods: Surveys were emailed to 200 department chairs via SurveyMonkey as part of a larger omnibus survey conducted by the Council of Academic Family Medicine Educational Research Alliance (CERA).

Results: More than 30% of family medicine programs reported at least one faculty member with a disability, while 50% reported matriculating at least one resident with a disability in the previous 5 years. Programs with greater numbers of physicians with disabilities were more likely to have a plan to recruit residents with disabilities, and inadequate expertise was the largest perceived barrier to disability inclusion.

Conclusions: Employing faculty with disabilities may be the driving force for having an active plan to recruit residents with disabilities. In order to meet the stated diversity goals of medicine, programs will need to increase professional development around disability inclusion.