Monday, November 20, 2006

Premeds with LDs - Accommodations on the MCAT

News Excerpt: "California's Superior Court of Alameda County ruled in October that the Assn. of American Medical Colleges, which administers the MCAT, must use the state's broader version of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act when determining if people diagnosed with learning disorders such as dyslexia or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are entitled to special accommodations."

AAMC plans to appeal, but the ruling will be a valuable one for many talented physicians-to-be who previously faced discrimination on MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). Hey AAMC, why not make the test untimed for everyone? Would the AAMC have blocked dyslexic surgeon Harvey Cushing?

Ruling: MCAT must adapt for LD's
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Flashes from the Past: "The worst speller in the class..."

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  1. I've worked with students with a range of special needs, from autism to giftedness, for some 15 years.

    I'd be very, very, hesitant to enshrine modifications for anything as important as screening for future doctors as a *legal* requirement for any category as fantastically broad and vague as " learning disability". This has to be drilled down *very* specifically.

    In some cases a particular example of a doctor with a LD represents no problem in others it would be a fundamental danger to patient safety.

    As it is, the bottom 10 % of medical school classes are a menace to public health, without even adding processing problems.

  2. Hi mark,

    You raise a good point. The current policy of the MCAT (as far as I know) is to not allow any accommodations. Behind closed hospital doors, it is probably for your concerns, though for legal reasons may not be explicit.

    Timed vs. untimed tests on the MCAT is also one thing, but then later others will have problems that are more directly clinically related - like finishing chart notes, not confusing or reversing orders, being able to juggle lots of information at once...

    We do know good physicians with LDs who have made it through to successful careers, and the high bar made it more difficult, but not impossible. Many people may think it's as difficult as it should be because the stakes are so high. I was just talking to Brock about this the other day.

    The difficulty in balancing all this complicated business is that there are many different requirements for the different jobs that go into medicine - and many of the hurdles that lead to the final practice may or may not be essential for the ultimate job. Surgery may be particularly important because spatial experts appear to have slower verbal response times, and there are no pencil-and-paper tests which can adequately gauge the skill of hands-on knowledge. Something to add to the pot for consideration, in any case.