There are persons in the health care professions who are blind or deaf or who are paraplegics, and who perform their tasks as well as anyone else. But, almost all of those with physical disabilities probably studied hard, may have even exceeded the expectations and abilities of others who don't have physical disabilities, and are working in areas that don't impact patient care. A neurosurgeon with epilepsy, for example, would be rare, but a medical researcher, psychiatrist, or rheumatologist with epilepsy or mental or physical issues might be highly functional and, possibly, contribute far more than any neurosurgeon.
John Nash, who probably had far more psychological problems than the nursing student, still managed to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton, become a tenured professor at M.I.T., and earn the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on game theory. His story, told in A Beautiful Mind, has a subtle underlying theme--even with his mental issues, he didn't expect society to grant him extraordinary accommodations.
The sense of entitlement--and providing rewards for the smallest of achievements--goes back to almost a neonatal stage. We now have kindergarten graduations, complete with caps, gowns, and diplomas. For the next 12 years, our children will receive sparkling peel-off stars on their homework papers, medals and trophies for being one of the top 3 or 5 or 7 winners in athletic competitions. Even if they don't get the hardware, they get embossed ribbons just for participating.
In college, many students, forced to leave boxes of rewards at home, resort to excuses to demand special treatment and rewards for not achieving what they and their parents believe is their destiny. They complain about the amount of writing required. They complain the professor distracts them because she is too beautiful or too ugly or that she wears dated clothes. Black students complain that their White teachers are racist; White students complain that their Black teachers are racist. They claim to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and gobble adderall as if it were M&Ms, taking away time that teachers, counselors, and physicians can work with those who truly have ADHD and who, for the most part, don't use that diagnosis as an excuse.
In a grade-inflated environment, where a "B" is now the "new average," propped up by many professors not holding to rigorous academic standards and the college more interested in pleasing parents, who pay the tuition and fees than in enforcing rigorous academic standards, the student graduates. Perhaps we need to ask who might be more valuable to society--a plumber, an electrician, or a farmer, against an unemployed English major who can write compositions about ethereal subjects or a lawyer whose goal is to amass thousands of billable hours and a country club membership on the way to a partnership.
Our society is saturated with people with college degrees who complain they didn't get the "A" they wanted, and now whine it isn't their fault they have so much debt and no job.
Many of our millennial children believe they are entitled to have what they believe their needs are. After all, the media skewer them with ads, photos, and stories of people who "have it all." Isn't it just logical for teens and those in their 20s to hear the siren call from the media and want the bling that others have?
When all the ephemera are stripped away, we are left with a college generation that believes they are entitled to that high grade, that job, that upscale lifestyle. Somewhere, there might even be a clinical nurse whose own problems, or perceived problems, affect someone's health.
[Dr. Brasch was an advocate for the mentally and physically disabled, long before he had to use a handicapped parking placard. His latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania.]
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