Episode 15: Can I Apply With A Disability?

Joni (Huff) Krapec joins us to discuss the prospect of applying to Pritzker as a student with a disability.

If you have questions for us, please send them to pritzkerquestions@gmail.com.

[Music: Stephen Asma – Check It]

Episode 15 Transcript

Ben Ferguson: Hey, folks! Welcome to another episode of the Pritzker Podcast. I am Ben and happy to be joined by Joni Krapec. If you haven’t heard, she recently got married and changed her name from Joni Huff which you may be familiar with. So Joni, welcome to the Pritzker Podcast.

Joni Krapec: Thank you, Ben. I’m happy to be here.

BF: We are continuing our theme of shorter, more easily-digestible episodes and thus we’re taking more focused questions from listeners and trying to answer them in a very short time. So we have one from an email from a listener and it goes as follows. “I’m currently an undergraduate student who is studying pre-medicine. I also happen to have a significant neurological disability which affects me for the most part physically. In terms of things like stamina and memory, I would be considered at least normal. But I was wondering if you could specify the requirements for medical school in greater detail.” She mentions again that her problem is sort of neurological. There’s some paralysis. And she wants to know if she would meet the university requirements or medical school requirements based on some the literature we have on our website for physical tasks that you must be able to perform. And she quotes part of the website as “neuromuscular control needed to efficiently, safely, and independently” do certain tasks, techniques, and so forth. So, Joni, I don’t know if we’ve ever had somebody who is applying under these circumstances. But can you comment on that just a little bit in terms of what you know? What needs to be done as a medical student? Or what sort of things this student might be prevented from doing? Or whether this would be a problem at all?

JK: Sure. I think the biggest thing that the applicant can kind of start doing, which I think would be helpful, would be to gain experience themselves in clinical settings, shadow doctors in different specialties, just to kind of get a sense for the entire range of tasks that a physician performs. Just to be able to see for your own self where you think you might feel some limitations because obviously, you are going to know your disease and know your limitations much much better than we will. So that’s something that I always encourage students to do so that they can kind of start to identify where might be areas or even specialty areas that might not be the best fit for me based on what I could do. So for example, we’ve had a student where because of physical limitation, he had to be sitting down when doing patient exams, when observing surgeries, and things like that. So that’s something that’s just good for you. To kind of be able to understand so that you can kind of help us to better understand what your limitations might be.

We do not ask and you are not required to disclose any kind of physical disability or limitation of any kind during the application process. What we will ask you to do is if you are admitted to Pritzker, we send you a letter. We send every accepted student a letter saying if you have any disabilities that we need to know about, whether it’s a learning disability, a cognitive disability, or physical disability, we want to know about those so that we can begin to work with you directly on what are the best ways to accommodate whatever your limitations might be in the scope of our clinical and academic environment. And so if a person then sends that information back to us saying, “Here’s what my concerns are”–and especially if the person has been in clinical environments where they can kind of say very specifically, “Here’s where I noticed the problem, here are some of the things that didn’t work very well for me”–then that give us a really great starting point to begin to address accommodations for each individual person. Since it is really individualized, you know, certainly if applicants have limitations that they may want to speak about, we definitely encourage you to get in touch with us. You can email the Pritzker Admissions office. And we can start talking with you about it now so that you’ll know kind of a little bit more about what all our technical standards are and whether or not you’d be able to meet them with accommodation that we would be able to also provide for you.

BF: Yeah. It seems like the shadowing thing that you mentioned, there’s just you know, clinical experiences does double duty, both to sort of inform yourself and what your limitations are but then also if there are very few limitations or no limitations, then it goes toward demonstrating to any medical schools that you’re applying to that you do not have those limitations and that you know that through your shadowing experiences.

JK: Exactly. And we’ve actually also received letters of recommendation from physicians that applicants have shadowed who have disclosed that they have some kind of disability and whether it’s a vision impairment or whether it’s a hearing impairment, or something like that, or something like what this listener is talking about. And so it is helpful too to have a letter of recommendation from that physician to say “This person worked with me and here’s what I’ve observed. And I think this person would be able to handle the rigors of medical school.”

BF: Right. Well great. Hopefully that’s enough information for anybody who’s listening who does have a disability and is thinking of applying, but I think that’s a nice overview Joni. Thanks for sharing.

JK: You’re more than welcome Ben. Keep the questions coming.

BF: Take care.

JK: Okay, bye.

BF: Bye.

BF: Thanks again for listening to the Pritzker Podcast. To hear more visit iTunes or pritzkerpodcast.libsyn.com. We also hope that this is an informative resource for you. And if it is, we’d love for you to send us an email to tell us about it. You can contact us at pritzkerquestions@gmail.com. And also, you can comment on our podcast page directly in iTunes telling us how we’re doing.

We’d also love for you to submit questions of your own so that we can address them on the air for all of our listeners. Chances are there are many people out there with the same question. Also, if you want to hear more about a certain topic in depth in the future, don’t hesitate to write in. Take care.

Posted on January 2, 2009 to: