Hien and Medical School Rotations: A Case Study on Accommodating for a Pacemaker

Date Updated


My name is Hien and I am a fourth-year medical student preparing for rotations. I have a heart condition that requires a pacemaker and I cannot be within 20 feet of microwaves, but my rotation sites may put me in proximity to medical microwaves.

Access Issue

Completing the rotation may expose me to unsafe levels of microwaves. I want to be safe, but I also want to be able to keep my disability confidential while maintaining the widest possible selection of rotation sites.


I called each rotation site to ask if microwaves were included at the site. If a potential danger was identified, I worked with appropriate staff to make arrangements to accomplish the rotation while assuring my safety. Every person I worked with was enthusiastic and creative in helping me identify reasonable accommodations. I worked with the career services and disabled student services offices to develop a procedure for alerting coworkers about what to do if I experience symptoms.


This case study illustrates the following:

  1. With collaboration, compromise, and planning ahead, every student's needs can be met.
  2. Sometimes the student can be very involved in identifying and solving access problems.