NEW YORK — James Post makes his hospital rounds in a wheelchair with an assistant to hold his stethoscope to the chests of his patients.
Some patients are surprised to see a 26-year-old quadriplegic as their doctor-in-training, and several medical schools rejected him.
Despite all that, he graduates today from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
"My own experiences as a patient, I can take those and use what I learned--empathy and a real understanding of what it means to be really sick--to be a better doctor," he said.
A diving accident at Boy Scout camp at age 14 left Post paralyzed from the neck down. He cannot move his legs and has only partial use of his arms.
He was rejected by 10 medical schools, including every one in his home state of Pennsylvania, despite finishing in the top 10% of his college class as a pre-med student. All cited his disability.
Post was accepted at Einstein on condition he hire a physician's assistant to help examine patients.
He hired the assistant at $50,000 a year and got a lot of help from his wife, Saretha, who even dissected a cadaver under his instruction.
Post paid for school from a $5-million settlement from the Boy Scouts; Post was paralyzed in a shallow-water dive required for a lifesaving badge. He begins an internship at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York next month.
Post gets his diploma a day after President Clinton signed a bill strengthening the rights of America's 5.8 million disabled children to equal education.