Is Ableism Towards Clinicians True in Healthcare?

Ableism, which is discrimination or prejudice against people with disabilities, is a problem that exists in many industries, including healthcare. However, in the healthcare industry, it has several looks. One is internal, where disabled people get discriminated against by their co-workers, while the other is where they get discriminated against by the patients themselves.


Can the disabled really work in the healthcare industry?

Yes, people with disabilities can be a part of the healthcare industry. In fact, many people with disabilities are already working in healthcare in various roles. There are disabled Doctors, nurses, technicians, and surgeons, among others. But it is a very difficult door for them to enter, as the discrimination starts even before they get the job. Sometimes, getting into the medical school itself is a burden. A recent study shows that most healthcare institutions have policies for disabled people that work for them but no clear policy for disabled people applying for a job. This is the same for medical schools, most of which do not have rules about admitting disabled people and how and who will accommodate their needs.

For example, Dr. Michael Ain, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, was rejected by every medical school he initially applied to, then was not accepted for residencies in hospitals. He’s a dwarf who has challenged every stereotype to now become a renowned orthopedic surgeon at John Hopkins. And all the adjustments they had to do was “a stool in the O.R., and I have special gowns tailored that are shorter.” according to Michael.


Some see their disability as helpful in the medical field.

Dr. Gregory Snyder is an Internal Medicine physician at the Brigham & Women’s Harvard Teaching Hospital in Boston, MA. He suffered a complete spinal cord injury from an accident and is now confined to a wheelchair. He believes that his injury allows him to connect to patients in a way others cannot. He mentioned that patients “know I’ve been in that bed just like they have.” and that creates a different level of understanding between patient and doctor.

It does boil down to extending the policies of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at your healthcare institution. From hiring policies to being part of the healthcare team, disability should not be a hindrance; capability, skill, and competency should always be primary. But what are policies if they are not melded with the inner culture of the healthcare institution? True acceptance and forward movement will only be achieved when the culture of your healthcare institution is overhauled with the right practices and considerations. This is why we have created Healthcare Now. DCC targets your culture so that any change becomes permanent for all. Let me introduce you to our process. Please email us at