October 18, 2022

Family Med researchers present their work at annual Disability Research Symposium

Topics covered included gaps in mandated accessibility resources for deaf patients; increasing rates of burnout in U.S. medical students; and training physicians with disabilities.

Members of the Department of Family Medicine contributed to vital conversations about disability health, access and equity during the Third Annual Center for Disability Health & Wellness (CDHW) Disability Research Symposium, held virtually October 7.

The event showcased researchers from across many schools and departments at the University of Michigan and beyond who study disability-related issues. It also facilitated networking and discussion on how disability-related research can be or is being used to provide solutions related to health, functioning, participation and quality of life for people living with disabilities.

Michael M. McKee, MD, MPH

Associate Professor Michael M. McKee, MD, MPH, of Family Medicine and co-director of the CDHW, introduced the many symposium presentations and participated in an afternoon panel discussion. McKee co-directs the center with Michelle Meade, Ph.D., a faculty member of the departments of Family Medicine and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). McKee is also faculty member of PM&R.

Research Fellow Tyler James, Ph.D., MCHES, gave a presentation titled, “Communication Access for Deaf Patients in Mental Health and Substance Use Treatment Centers: A Legal Epidemiology Study,” which corresponded with a paper recently published in Health Affairs.

Zoie Sheets, a former intern with MDisability, a Family Medicine-hosted academic program that trains the next generation of researchers to care for people with disabilities, gave a presentation titled, “Disability, Program Access, Empathy and Burnout in U.S. Medical Students: A National Study.” Sheets is currently a medical student at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine.

Lisa Meeks, Ph.D., Clinical Lecturer
Lisa Meeks, PhD

Lisa Meeks, Ph.D., a faculty professor with the departments of Learning Health Sciences and Family Medicine, and an expert in disabilities in medical education, moderated a two-part panel on the topic of “Disability Inclusion in Medicine: Teaching and Training Physicians with Disabilities.” Meeks, director of the Docs With Disabilities Initiative, is also co-host of the Docs With Disabilities podcast, sponsored in part by the Department of Family Medicine.




Panelists for the “Medical Education: Building curriculum to teach trainees and physicians about providing care for people with disabilities” discussion included:

Susan M. Havercamp, PhD, FAAIDD, NADD-CC, Ohio State College of Medicine

Sandra L Hearn, MD, Michigan Medicine

Michael McKee, MD, MPH, Michigan Medicine

Dorothy W. Tolchin, MD, EdM, Harvard Medical School

Panelists for the “Medical Education: The inclusion of individuals with disabilities as trainees and physicians” discussion included: 

Caroline McGowan, University of Michigan Medical School student

Christopher Moreland, MD, MPH, The University of Texas at Austin

Karina Pereira-Lima, PhD, University of Michigan 

Zoie Sheets, MPH, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Medicine medical student

Other conference presentations covered a wide range of topics such as understanding the experiences of U-M community members with disabilities; the material consequences of structural ableism; the study of ableism and health in the population health sciences literature; and the portrayal of disabilities in graphic medicine and comics.