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Hartman v. National Board of Medical Examiners

March 9, 2010

AARON L. HARTMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NATIONAL BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pollak, J

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is a suit by plaintiff Aaron L. Hartman against defendant National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) arising under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Plaintiff has moved for a preliminary injunction (docket no. 8) directing defendant NBME to provide certain accommodations when plaintiff takes the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 2 Clinical Skills examination. The requested accommodations are (1) use of an electronic text-to-speech device, (2) double the length of time for patient encounters, and (3) replacement of telephone patient encounters with in-person patient encounters. Following discovery, the defendant opposes the request for use of a text-to-speech device, but acquiesces in the other requests. A five-day hearing has been held to take testimony and hear argument.

I. Findings of Fact

1. Aaron Hartman is a fourth-year medical student at SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine.

2. Hartman has a profound stutter that can result in pauses between syllables--called blocks--ranging from several seconds up to periods of half a minute or more.

3. He has completed all the requirements for graduation from Stony Brook except passing the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examination.

4. He has failed the USMLE Step 2 CS examination once. He seeks to take it a second time. If he fails the examination three times, there is a substantial likelihood that he will be dismissed from medical school, as Stony Brook states its policy is to dismiss students who have failed the examination three times.

5. Hartman hopes to enter a pathology residency once he graduates from medical school.

6. He has chosen pathology partially due to his impaired speech because it will involve marginal or no contact with patients.

7. Without passing the USMLE Step 2 CS, he will be unable to apply to some residencies, begin most residencies, or obtain state medical licensure.

8. The NBME designs and administers the USMLE Examination.

9. The USMLE Step 2 CS Examination consists of encounters--chiefly person-to-person but a few by telephone--with twelve standardized patients.

10. Standardized patients are persons who are trained by the NBME to present a standardized case for evaluation and diagnosis to the medical student taking the examination and to evaluate the student's ability to communicate and develop rapport with patients.

11. For each encounter (apart from a small number of unscored encounters) the Step 2 CS test-taker is evaluated ...


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