Kristina H. Petersen, PhD
New York Medical College
For Kristina H. Petersen, PhD, the key to excellence in academic medicine is ensuring equal access for all learners. That includes the 1,200-plus medical students nationwide with disabilities. Dr. Petersen, assistant dean of academic support programs and an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at New York Medical College (NYMC), has made it her mission to help students excel.
Through her role in the Office of Academic Support at NYMC, Dr. Petersen works directly with students to improve study strategies and time management techniques through one-on-one mentoring, facilitating students’ transition to medical school, and supporting students with disabilities.
In addition to her exuberant, humor-infused biochemistry lectures, Dr. Petersen leads a team pioneering the effort to create a fully integrated, longitudinal disability curriculum to provide future physicians critical training in how to best serve patients with disabilities. She also supported the development of NYMC’s Resiliency Curriculum, which promotes well-being and resiliency among medical students.
Dr. Petersen also contributes to the field as a medical education researcher. Her investigations include rigorous quantitative and qualitative assessments of the efficacy of instructional and supportive interventions. Her work has supported the development of best practices to fully include students in medical education, regardless of their underrepresented or disability status.
Dr. Petersen’s contributions to the study of medical education have been highly influential. Marissa Contento, MD, president of the Iota Chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, said that a recent chapter Dr. Petersen penned for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Global Public Health “provides an important framework for dismantling barriers to increase access and support the inclusion of physicians with disabilities in medical education.” Within the book Disability as Diversity, Dr. Petersen co-authored chapters on strategies to facilitate academic success and inclusive instruction. Both focused on methods to mitigate barriers facing students with disabilities. Recently, she co-authored a research article highlighting barriers faced by students with disabilities who receive institutional accommodations but are denied accommodations on the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1.
In July 2022, Dr. Petersen began a two-year term as president of the Coalition for Disability Access in Health Science Education, which aims to facilitate access and opportunities for people with disabilities in health sciences education.
Dr. Petersen earned her undergraduate degree from New York University in 2001 and a PhD in biochemistry from Cardiff University in Wales in 2007. Dr. Petersen has received numerous accolades, including the Outstanding Teaching Award from New York University in 2008, four Student Senate awards for enhancement of student life, and five NYMC Teaching & Mentoring Excellence Awards. She was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society in 2018.