Medical school graduate sues licensing exam board for alleged violation of Americans with Disabilities Act

A New Jersey man is suing the National Board of Medical Examiners in Philadelphia, claiming the board's refusal to grant him extra time to finish the exam because of his dyslexia represents a direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to nj.com.

Brian Messenger, MD, 35, graduated from St. George's University Medical School in Grenada, West Indies, in April. To begin his residency in the U.S., he must first complete a national qualifying exam.

In a lawsuit filed in a Newark, N.J. federal court, Dr. Messenger said he took and failed the test twice in 2015 and 2016. He claimed he failed the exam because of his dyslexia, which forces him to guess on a significant number of questions to finish the exam within the allotted timeframe. Dr. Messenger said he asked testing administrators to provide him with additional time to complete the exam after both attempts, but was denied, the lawsuit states.

Dr. Messenger's lawsuit accuses the National Board of Medical Examiners of violating the ADA, which cites dyslexia as a disability, and states by not allowing him extra time, the exam "measures the extent of his dyslexia rather than his ability to practice medicine." The lawsuit asks the board to review its testing protocol so he may qualify for the next round of residency placements in 2018. Dr. Messenger is also seeking damages for lost income he would have received if he completed his residency after medical school, according to the lawsuit.

"His clinical rotations show he can do it," Dr. Messenger's lawyer said in a statement to nj.com. "Whether he can take an artificial test in a set amount of time doesn't tell if he can do the job. Dr. Messenger is a brilliant man. He has something very important to offer to the pediatric field because of what he brings to the table."

A National Board of Medical Examiners spokesperson told nj.com the organization could not discuss Dr. Messenger's case, but said the board has previously granted test-takers with disabilities extra time.

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