Practicing medicine as a Deaf physician is an uphill battle
“No one anticipated how the pandemic would impact their Deaf colleagues’ work environment and career opportunities. Yet, 15% of adults report some form of hearing difficulty. This number increases dramatically with advancing age, with 50% of those aged 75 years or older experiencing hearing difficulty. The exact number of Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) physicians and other health care providers is unknown. However, according to the Association of Medical Professionals With Hearing Losses, the numbers have increased over the past few decades. This increase is in part due to legislation (such as the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990) and evolving technologies (such as electronic and visual stethoscopes and speech-to-text applications). Although these changes have enabled more DHH professionals to work in health care, none was sufficient to address the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on DHH physicians.
I grieved this change in my life. I could not rely on my usual communication methods to understand people. To succeed in this new reality, I had to advocate for full-time interpreters at work to treat my patients, urgently help a colleague with their shift, or attend a last-minute meeting. I needed to select skilled, compatible interpreters while consciously redesigning my work environment to consider their needs, methods, and availability.”
Carolyn Stern is a family physician.
She shares her story and discusses her KevinMD article, “Practicing medicine as a Deaf physician is an uphill battle. COVID makes it worse.”
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