April 2022 Invited Speaker Rounds


The Capability Imperative: Revealing Ableism in Medical Education

Neera Jain, PhD, MS, CRC

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Health Education Scholarship

Date: Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Time: 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Hybrid: Life Sciences Centre 1312 CMR & Zoom*

Zoom Details: For connection details, please email ches.communications@ubc.ca.


The movement to diversify medical education recognizes that various perspectives and life experiences enrich medical training, practice, and patient care. However, students with disabilities remain underrepresented in medical education and face barriers in structure, culture, and climate. Efforts to remedy exclusion have focused on bettering accommodation policy and practice.

This presentation draws from a constructivist grounded theory of four U.S. medical schools that asked: how is disability inclusion enacted in medical education? Amongst other things, the study shows that inclusion was informed by the capability imperative, a context-specific manifestation of ableism that upholds a cultural logic of compulsory hyper-ablebodiedness and mindedness. I describe this logic and argue that it renders disabled students’ misfits in medical education. Their inclusion is constrained, always exceptional. To be truly inclusive of diverse bodyminds, the capability imperative must be interrogated and dismantled.


Neera Jain is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Health Education Scholarship at the UBC Faculty of Medicine. She completed her PhD in Aotearoa New Zealand at the University of Auckland Faculty of Education and Social Work in 2020. Her doctoral thesis won the 2021 AMEE Doctoral Report award. She is a former disability resource professional at two U.S. health science campuses and advocate for disability inclusion in health science education. She co-edited the book Equal Access for Students with Disabilities: The Guide for Health Science and Professional Education (Springer Publishing, 2020) and co-authored the AAMC special report, Accessibility, Inclusion, and Action in Medical Education: Lived Experiences of Learners and Physicians with Disabilities (2018).

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