Despite the growing national recognition of disability as a valued aspect of diversity in the workforce, people with disabilities remain dramatically underrepresented in the health professions. This keynote address will review the multi-faceted barriers that have led to this systematic exclusion, as well as recent efforts to enhance opportunities for students with disabilities to pursue careers in healthcare. Ultimately, people with disabilities must be seen as a valued and essential part of the healthcare workforce.
Cheri Blauwet, MD is an Associate Professor in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and the Distinguished Chair in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Brigham Health. She is an attending sports medicine physician at Mass General Brigham, where she also serves as Founding Director of the Kelley Adaptive Sports Research Institute. Dr. Blauwet is also a former Paralympic athlete in the sport of wheelchair racing, competing for the United States Team in three Paralympic Games (Sydney '00, Athens '04, Beijing '08) and bringing home a total of seven Paralympic medals. She is also a two-time winner of both the Boston and New York City Marathons.
Translating her background as an athlete to the clinical setting, Dr. Blauwet is a pioneer and change agent in the area of disability and health equity, with a specific focus on sport and physical activity for health promotion and chronic disease prevention. She is deeply committed to ensuring that opportunities for achieving optimal health are equitable and universally accessible to all, inclusive of people with disabilities. She serves as a Member of the International Paralympic Committee’s Medical Committee and serves on the Board of Directors for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) as well as numerous other leadership roles throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Movement. In 2016, she was the recipient of the Harvard Medical School Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award and was named one Boston’s “Ten Outstanding Young Leaders” by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. In 2019 she was named by the Boston Business Journal as one of the “40 under 40” community leaders. She was a guest at the White House as well as the keynote speaker at the Boston celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.