Serendipity and Social Justice: How Someone with a Physical Disability Succeeds in Clinical Bioethics

Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics (forthcoming)
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Trainees with disabilities in health-related professions are often subjected to structural ableism in medicine: the discriminatory manifestation of lowered expectations towards people with disabilities by medical professionals. In this case study, I reflect on my experiences as the first individual with significant disabilities to be offered a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical bioethics at the National Institutes of Health. I focus on the following question: What arrangements need to be in place in order for someone with my level of disability to thrive as a clinical bioethicist? By telling my story, I show how the process of accommodating trainees with disabilities often requires creative problem-solving and a considerable amount of institutional resources. I also describe the team-based method that my mentors and I developed to enable me to complete rotations on the NIH’s bioethics consultation service. If more trainees with disabilities are to succeed in clinical bioethics trainee programs, the field will have to grapple with how to develop an infrastructure for providing disability related support across training programs. This article is the beginning of a dialogue about how to build such an infrastructure.



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Kevin Mintz
Stanford University

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