Our History

Our History

The Society for Healthcare Professionals with Disabilities was founded by Dr. Joseph Kim in the United States.

Dr. Kim started this journey in 2010 by looking for the American Society for Handicapped Physicians (ASHP) which was founded in 1981 (or possibly 1983 according to some other documents online). Dr. Kim frequently speaks about career planning with physicians and medical students who have disabilities. After searching for the ASHP, Dr. Kim concluded that ASHP was no longer an active organization. At the time, there were no other organizations providing support to physicians and medical students with disabilities. As a result, he took the initiative to create several websites and a free online community (a "virtual" society) to provide a supportive network and a library of resources for the community of healthcare professionals and students with disabilities.


April 9, 2010

Dr. Kim wanted to create an organization that could provide resources and support for physicians, medical students, and other health care professionals with disabilities. He shared his vision about the Society for Healthcare Professionals with Disabilities with several other physicians including the director of the Boston University MD/MBA program when he was in Boston attending the 8th annual MD/MBA conference hosted by Boston University April 9-11, 2010.

April and May 2010

To get the new society started, Dr. Kim personally funded the development of the following four websites and launched them in April and May of 2010:
Dr. Kim created these websites to represent the following groups within the Society for Healthcare Professionals with Disabilities:
  • Physicians and medical students
  • Pharmacists and pharmacy students 
  • Nurses, advanced practice nurses, and nursing students 
After the new websites launched, Dr. Kim regularly corresponded with medical students, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care professionals and wrote about common issues faced by health care professionals with disabilities. He also created a members-only section on the website and provided an online forum where members could discuss disability issues, share their own stories, ask and answer questions, and provide support for one another.

July 2010

Political update:
Executive Order 13548 Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals With Disabilities
Signed on  July 26, 2010 by President Barack Obama
Federal Register page and date: 75 FR 45039, July 30, 2010


In 2011, Dr. Kim continued to personally fund the development and maintenance of the four websites. The organization was still very young, but new members were joining each month. When 2010 ended, there were approximately 50 members who had signed up and registered on the members-only section.

March 25, 2011

The members-only website section for the Society of Healthcare Professionals with Disabilities received an upgrade on March 25, 2011, thanks to WEGO Health who underwrote the annual Ning Plus membership fee of $199.95/year. We wish to thank WEGO Health for their support. Ning had partnered with WEGO Health as a Ning Sponsor Partner to offer FREE Ning Plus access to Ning Networks primarily focused on health related content and community.

April 8, 2011

On April 8-9, 2011, Dr. Kim attended the 9th annual MD/MBA conference at Texas Tech University and continued conversations about the Society of Healthcare Professionals with Disabilities with several other physicians who share a passion to help other clinicians and students who live with disabilities.

April 2011

In April 2011, Dr. Kim spoke on the phone with Helena Berger, Acting President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). He shared his vision about the Society for Healthcare Professionals with Disabilities with her and expressed his interest to collaborate as the organization grows and expands.

April 2011

The Society for Healthcare Professionals with Disabilities joined the GettingHired.com community as an Advocacy Organization member.

November 7, 2011

Political update:
The Obama Administration announces an initiative to help veterans and people with disabilities to find work: "We Can't Wait: Obama Administration Announces New Initiatives to Get Veterans Back to Work." Earlier this month, the HHS and FDA announced their intention to hire people with disabilities.

The Society for Healthcare Professionals with Disabilities grew to over 200 members in 2011. One year ago (late 2010), we only had 50 members.


We started 2012 with over 260 members.

March 2012

On March 25, 2012, the funding from WEGO Health that supported the Ning community platform ended.  Once again, we thank WEGO Health for supporting us for 1 year. Now, we are looking for new partners or we may switch to a different community platform.

Dr. Kim continues to explore ways to grow the visibility of the society and to collaborate with relevant organizations.

May 2012

We want to thank Physicians Financials for sponsoring our Ning community platform for 12 months. We are grateful for your contribution that will allow us to grow our membership. The Ning platform allows clinicians to join for free and to have the ability to share their stories, ask questions, and communicate openly in an online environment.


Jan 2013

We started 2013 with over 500 members and we have continued to maintain our presence online by publishing on our websites and asking our members to tell others about our growing network. Membership remains complimentary because of generous contributions from several organizations and we plan to maintain a free membership model for our members for the life of this organization.

April 2013

We were invited to collaborate on an NIH proposal  in response to RFA-RM-13-002: Planning Grants for the NIH National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) for those under-represented in medicine http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-RM-13-002.html. We were included in a proposal to house the NRMN within the CTSA consortium. The Society for Healthcare Professionals with Disabilities provided a letter of support in the proposal. The proposal is aligned with the recent IOM report that encourages CTSA institutions to engage in substantive and productive collaborations and trans-CTSA projects and programs.

Summer 2013

We continue to receive requests from students, researchers, and journalists who are interested in interviewing healthcare professionals who have disabilities. Our members have graciously agreed to participate in several of these interviews.

Sept 23, 2013

UN Holds 1st High-Level Meeting on the Disabled

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a historic U.N. meeting of world leaders Monday "to break barriers and open doors" for the more than 1 billion disabled people around the world. The goal of the first-ever high-level General Assembly meeting was to spur international action to ensure that the disabled can contribute to the global economy. Monday's meeting is the prelude to the annual U.N. gathering of presidents, prime ministers and monarchs, which starts Tuesday.


Health Care Professionals with Disabilities Career Trends, Best Practices and Call-to-Action Policy Roundtable

Hosted on March 18, 2014 by DOLʼs Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) in collaboration with the National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) and co-sponsored by DOLʼs Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesʼ (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Access the report here (PDF)

Discussion at the 2014 National Conference of Special Constituencies (NCSC)

During the 2014 National Conference of Special Constituencies (NCSC) held on May 1-3, AAFP chapter delegates asked the AAFP to explore a cost-effective method to gather membership data on physicians who self-identify as disabled. Read more here.


In 2015, we offered members several opportunities to be involved in research projects and to be interviewed by reporters who were writing stories about health care professionals with disabilities.


We began 2016 with over 900 members and we have committed more time to grow and provide additional resources.


By the end of 2017, we had grown to over 1,400 members.

At the end of 2017, we disseminated information about an online social media campaign to increase awareness about #DocsWithDisabilities and #NursesWithDisabilities. 

ASHP: American Society for Handicapped Physicians

Looking for ASHP? Here is some information we have found regarding the ASHP:

According to some information found on the Internet, the ASHP was created in 1981 by Dr. Spencer Breard Lewis, a blind Harvard-educated family practitioner from Louisiana. He died shortly after the Society's founding. A paraplegic, Dr. Terry Winkler, then became the president of the society. Information on the Internet suggests that the most recent Director was William Lambert. A Yahoo Group for the ASHP had been founded in 2005 and included photos of the founder, family members, and ASHP members.

Contact information for the former ASHP: (not verified, but this is the information that we found online)

American Society for Handicapped Physicians
3424 S Culpepper Ct, Springfield, MO 65804; (417) 881-1570

American Society of Handicapped Physicians
105 Morris Dr, Eastrop, Louisiana 71220
EIN: 72-0956352

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