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A new paper co-authored by Albany Law School
President & Dean Alicia Ouellette is confronting the policies — known as "organic" technical standards — that many medical schools use to evaluate the qualifications of students with disabilities.
"Medical Schools' Willingness to Accommodate Medical Students with Sensory and Physical Disabilities: Ethical Foundations of a Functional Challenge to 'Organic' Technical Standards," was published in the October 2016 issue of
AMA Journal of Ethics (Volume 18, Number 10: 993-1002). In it, the authors point to medical schools' current technical standards as "a critical barrier to matriculation" of individuals with a disability, who enroll at a rate of less than one percent despite making up about 19 percent of the noninstitutionalized population of the United States.
They argued that instead of organic technical standards, which "require students to demonstrate certain physical, cognitive, behavioral, and sensory abilities without assistance," medical schools should adopt functional technical standards that "focus on the students' abilities with or without the use of accommodations or assistive technologies."
"Medical schools … should focus on what students with disabilities can do, rather than what they cannot do, because these students further diversify the health care profession and improve our ability to care for an expanding population of patients with disabilities," the authors wrote, adding that functional technical standards would allow students with sensory and physical disabilities "to use rapidly developing, cutting-edge assistive technologies and accommodations to successfully perform essential tasks."
co-authored a related piece — a national study on medical schools' compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act — published in
Academic Medicine earlier this year. She is the author of the book
Bioethics and Disability: Toward a Disability-Conscious Bioethics (Cambridge University Press, 2011).
Her research focuses on health law, disability rights, family law, children's rights, and human reproduction. She has authored numerous articles in academic journals such as the
American Journal of Law and Medicine, the
Hastings Center Report, the
American Journal of Bioethics, the
Hastings Law Journal, the
Indiana Law Journal, and
Oregon Law Review.
Dean Ouellette earned an A.B. at Hamilton College and a J.D. from Albany Law School, where she was editor-in-chief of the
Albany Law Review.