Working Title: Prescribing change for medical school pedagogy, assessment, accessibility and inclusion
Editor/Publisher: Michael S. Jeffress, lead editor of The Palgrave Handbook of Disability and Communication (2023) and editor of three volumes in Routledge’s Interdisciplinary Disability Studies Series. One or more co-editors may join the project. Will be published by an international academic press with options for open-access chapters and chapters will be subject to peer-review process.
Background/Rationale: As a disability studies scholar who is also a medical school counselor, I am troubled by the institutional barriers to accessibility within medical school and residency programs. Students with disabilities are marginalized when it comes to medical school admissions and programs of study. Those with hidden disabilities who do find a seat often fear bias and discrimination if they self-disclose. Those who do submit requests for “reasonable accommodations” may be surprised to discover an impersonal process and receive a terse rejection notice without any explanation beyond, “Your request for accommodation has been denied.” Consequently, many highly capable students with disabilities, who could unquestionably perform the duties of any number of careers in medicine with only a few, if any, adjustments to how, when, or where they do the work—none of which would compromise any aspect of patient care or the quality of work performed, instead are denied the opportunity to pursue their dream career, and society will never benefit from the meaningful contributions to the field of medicine these individuals would have made.
The institutional barriers to accessibility that need to be challenged include a pedagogy that relies heavily on long days of lectures often tied to stringent mandatory lecture attendance policies, the rigid adherence to multiple-choice questions on standardized written exams as the primary form of assessment, and a paradigm for medical school that requires all students to pass all the same technical standards. These barriers are reinforced by a discriminatory mindset that easily grows and festers among people who find themselves part of an exclusive club and alumni and members of elite academic institutions and professional associations in which tradition is sacrosanct and economic incentives abound for maintaining the status quo. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that medical schools in the U.S. have an abysmal acceptance rate of less than 6%, and those in Canada and Western Europe are not much better with rates less than 20%. This leads thousands of students annually to look to offshore, for-profit medical schools, and these schools have perhaps even less motivation to prioritize accessibility because they operate outside the purview of ADA.
At a time when the ideals of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” have become pervasive in higher education, when pedagogical research and best practices are calling for more engagement with active learning and multimodal forms of assessment, and when Universal Design for Learning and other efforts to create accessibility and inclusivity in the classroom are being widely promoted and shown to benefit all students—not just those with disabilities, it is time to call for a paradigm change in medical school education and assessment.
Targeted Proposals: The volume will be multi-/interdisciplinary and embrace varied theoretical and methodological approaches, so contributors from any relevant academic discipline are welcome. Targeted approaches include, but are not limited to:
- Theoretical essays to address historical, philosophical, and/or ethical matters.
- Autoethnographic essays that draw upon relevant personal experience as a medical student and/or healthcare professional.
- Rhetorical approaches to critique relevant texts or other rhetorical constructs surrounding medical school pedagogy and assessment.
- Original research involving pedagogy, assessment of adult STEM learners, medical students and/or healthcare professionals,
- Original research assessing attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of current medical students or practitioners surrounding issues of accessibility, pedagogy and assessment or even those of the general public related to seeking care from disabled healthcare professionals.
- Meta-analysis of relevant literature
Submission guidelines: Please submit the following items by e-mail to Dr. Jeffress by February 1, 2024 at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Medical School Book CFP”:
- Name, highest degree earned, and institutional affiliation(s) of author(s) (Info. will not be shared with reviewers).
- Working title and 150-200 word abstract sufficient to allow reviewers to understand the main focus of the proposed chapter.
- If you are proposing a chapter to discuss findings of original research, please indicate whether research is already completed. If so, please give basic details of the research (i.e., when, where, and how conducted, sample size, etc.,); if not, then provide plans for the same. Proof of IRB approval will be required.
- Contributors who submit proposals deemed strong and a good fit will be invited to submit a full draft chapter. Invitations to submit drafts will be sent by April 1, 2024, and shall be due by June 1, 2024. Final decision to accept/reject for publication will be based on anonymous peer-review of full chapter drafts to be completed by Sept, 1, 2024. Final drafts will then be due by November 1, 2024.