The Career Doctor™

by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez

Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers? Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of your own, use the anonymous form below, and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact information is here.

SHOULD I BE OPEN ABOUT MY LEARNING DISABILITY?

Dear Career Doctor:

I was diagnosed with a learning disability in high school but when I entered college I did not notify any of my counselors nor my teachers due to the fact that I was ashamed of the stigma: many people believe individuals with learning disabilities are not qualified to pursue professional careers. As a result I struggled in college and ended up with a 3.3 GPA. I know if had I received the accommodations given to individuals with learning disabilities, I would have done much better.

I am now planning to apply to medical school and I am still worried as to whether I should state that I am LD in my personal statement. I was wondering if you knew any med schools that were receptive to individuals that with Learning disabilities? Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Hanna

Dear Hanna:

I asked Dr. Kate Moody, a Larchmont resident and learning disability expert, to help me answer your questions. Dr. Moody used to head the dyslexia treatment center at the University of Texas Medical School in Galveston and worked with many medical students who "crashed" toward the end of their first year, either because they didn't know they had a learning disability or didn't know how to re-train their brain to accommodate it.

She says, "she would not disclose in the application, IF she were not anticipating needing accommodations in the first year. This is a big if! If Hanna is accepted and then submits the appropriate kinds of documentation, accommodations could be made for her, such as extra time on tests. But she will be at the mercy of a committee, and sometimes the answer is NO"

No medical school is trying to recruit students with learning disabilities, but some may be more accommodating than others. To find such medical schools, Dr. Moody suggests contacting the International Dyslexia Society in Philadelphia.

Dr. Moody also said, "I can't assess Hanna's likelihood for success in medical school without seeing her results on the MCAT exam and looking at her neuro-psychological scores to see which kinds of discrepancies she has in the learning profile. The 3.3 in undergrad doesn't tell me much. If she can memorize well and spends twice as much time as her peers, she can do very well in undergrad, but crash in medical school where those practices alone won't handle the work."

Hanna, I do hope you have had a thorough neuro-psychological exam, so that someone like Dr. Moody can teach you how to succeed in spite of your learning disability. Many people with learning disabilities have become successful physicians -- and are prominent in all professions. So don't let your shame over an invalid stigma keep you from trying for what you want -- or getting the help you need.

The Career Doctor

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The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.

Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.