How to improve care for patients with disabilities?

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We often relate to people who are like us and find it easy to seek care from them.

A recently published editorial has claimed that to meet the preferences from patients with disabilities and improve quality of care, a diverse clinician workforce that matches the diversity in the general population is needed.

However, when it comes to patients with disabilities, the chance of getting a clinician “like them” is extremely low, which may lead to patients’ reluctance to seek care or follow prescribed interventions and treatments.

Bonnielin Swenor, associate professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute and associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is working to solve this disparity.

Living with low vision herself, Swenor experiences difficulties in many aspects of her life, but devotes her time to researching how to help patients like herself, and assuring those patients that there are ways to overcome the hardships and pursue their goals.

In the editorial published in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine,’ Swenor and Lisa Meeks, a collaborator from University of Michigan Medical School, addressed barriers to an inclusive workforce and propose a roadmap to guide academic medical institutions toward creating a work environment more inclusive for people with disabilities.

“Although more institutions are embracing diversity and inclusion, people with disabilities still face barriers in pursuing and getting support in their careers,” said Swenor.

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