That all being said, what I am wondering now from all of you is - how did you approach residency applications? Did you choose to disclose/not disclose?
I had one very blunt but somewhat helpful attending tell me that she refused to give me advise on the matter. She said, if you choose to disclose, I would absolutely be biased against you compared to your equal on paper. However, if you didn't and you told me after the match, you would have started off our relationship by lying to me, and I wouldn't trust you.
Gee, thanks, Random Attending! Here's my blunt advice: Don't disclose. No way, no how. Two reasons: One, there's prejudice against medical students and residents with disabilities, as you've already seen. Two, you'll be seen as having poor judgment for having disclosed it on your application, because you should have known point #1. No residency director, given the choice between two equal candidates, will take someone with narcolepsy over someone without narcolepsy. Even if they're knowledgable about narcolepsy, it's more work for them to arrange accommodations if you need them, they'll worry that you'll make a mistake and they'll get sued because they hired you knowing you had narcolepsy, and they'll worry that you'll need to take a leave if the narcolepsy gets worse. And if they're not knowledgable, they'll even take someone less qualified than you because of the diagnosis.
So, my advice would be to leave it out of your applications. I am a PGY1, and just finished the application process. I included it in my applications and only got 1 interview outside my home institution, and I firmly believe that is the reason why. No one understands N and they don't want to take a chance on a resident who has it. I ended up soap-ing into a prelim position at my home institution and have to re-apply again this year. I will not be including it on this year's application.
Exactly. Margeepoo, I'm really sorry you found that out the hard way. Another thing I recommend for women, especially if they're married, is to think of some believable excuse for why you'd never get pregnant during your residency and be prepared in advance to use it in an emergency. Legally, of course, they can't even ask you if you're married let alone about starting a family, and definitely don't even mention pregnancy or children if it's not brought up by the interviewer. But if you have an interviewer that's dropping hints about starting a family or has made sexist comments, find a way to drop it into conversation. For example, you might be ready to say, "Well, I'm so fortunate that I have a ton of nieces and nephews, I'm definitely in no hurry to start a family myself." If you're prepared in advance, you won't be so shocked by the question that you won't know what to say.