Thursday, September 17, 2009

BC Doc With Brain Injury Quite a Headache for UBC

Claims Discrimination Due to Disability to BC HRT

In a news item the other day from the Vancouver Sun, was a report about Dr. Ruth Gibson, a physician originally from Northern Ireland, practicing in Whistler, who claims that the UBC faculty of medicine has discriminated against her because of a disability she has.

In 1982, before she qualified as a physician in Ireland, she was in a major car accident and incurred a mild traumatic brain injury. Now, 27 years later, some of the symptoms still linger. I can personally relate to her situation, as I incurred one myself about 6 years ago, and in my case many of my symptoms are still present. In her case:
According to a 2007 neuropsychological assessment, Gibson’s cognitive functions are generally excellent, with a few exceptions – that there are areas of subtle weakness exacerbated by growing anxiety during Dr. Gibson’s residency, reaching the point that her symptoms met the criteria for a “generalized anxiety disorder.”
In 2003, she was enrolled in residency in anesthesiology at UBC faculty of medicine. But:
On Nov. 15, 2006, the faculty of medicine terminated Gibson from her residency for what was described as “unsuitability” or “weaknesses demonstrated that the FOM claimed were not remediable.”
She reported the following about her anxiety symptoms:

A psychologist found those symptoms became increasingly disabling in the last 18 months of Gibson’s residency, interfering with her performance.

Gibson claims that the weaknesses identified by the FOM during her residency were caused or substantially driven by her disability, but could have been remediated with accommodation, with the result that the termination of her residency was discriminatory.

But, Dr. Gibson applied to enter the Enhanced Skills program of the UBC FOM and was rejected in November 2008, and that is what she is claiming discrimination about, and has had a first hearing to determine what is fact she is claiming discrimination about here.

Actually trying to understand what she was claiming gave me a headache, as I am sure it does the FOM and even the Tribunal. However, I can empathize with her situation. I will do another post when I can sort out what the preliminary decision was actually getting at because it is an interesting case about mental disabilities.

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