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Photo of Kirschner, Kristi L

Kristi L Kirschner, MD

Clinical Professor

Department of Medical Education


Building & Room:

986 CMET


MC 591

Office Phone:



Kristi L. Kirschner, MD is a Clinical Professor in the University of Illinois College of Medicine (UICOM) Department of Medical Education (DME), with a secondary appointment in the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation. She is currently the director of undergraduate education for DME and subtheme leader for Health Humanities and ethics curriculum for the UICOM.

Dr. Kirschner’s academic interests include health humanities and bioethics with a particular focus on disability issues and marginalized populations; the training of health care professionals about health humanities, bioethics and disability; and health care access for people with disabilities including reproductive health services. She also is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Disabilities and Human Development at UIC where she worked with Carol Gill PhD and Teresa Savage PhD RN, to create the Certificate in Disability Ethics in 2003.

As background, she is a physician specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with particular interest in the needs of patients with complex neurological disabilities, including adults with spina bifida, neuromuscular diseases and cerebral palsy.  She is a 1986 graduate of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and a fellow of the University of Chicago Maclean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics (1994-1995). She completed her residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in 1990 at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and was an attending physician there until December of 2009.  Concurrently, she was also on the faculty of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Medical Humanities and Bioethics, and PM&R.  She was the founding director for the Donnelley Family Disability Ethics Program at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, serving in this role from 1995-2009. She was the inaugural special feature editor for the Ethics/ Law column in PM&R: Journal of Injury, Function and Rehabilitation from 2009-2015 (the office scientific journal of the American Academy of PM&R She was also one of the founders of the RIC Women with Disabilities Center and served as the medical director from 1991-2009.

From 2010-2019 she practiced at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital on the westside of Chicago, a safety net rehabilitation hospital. Given her interests in health care access and social justice she helped to create the Community Care Alliance of Illinois (CCAI) in 2012, a not-for- profit Chicago-land managed care plan serving seniors and adults with disabilities in Medicaid and Medicare Advantage. Though CCAI was not able to survive the Illinois Medicaid rebidding process in 2017, she remains committed to working on solutions for better quality care for patients with complex conditions in publicly funded insurance systems. She has served in the past on the board of Access Living of Chicago, the local independent living center, and as a trustee of Devices4theDisabled, a not-for-profit medical equipment recycling program. In 2019, she left her clinical practice at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital to work on complex care and structural solutions in health reform. She is currently working with a team at UIHealth to build an interdisciplinary Lifespan Disability Clinic based in Academic Internal Medicine. Her current academic work is focused on disability ethics and the development and evaluation of health professional curriculum around disability. as well as to develop disability curriculum for health professional students and an interprofessional effort.

Selected peer review articles from 2009-2022:

  1. Savage TA, Parson J, Zollman F, Kirschner KL. “Rehabilitation team disagreement: Guidelines for resolution,” PM+R: The Journal of Injury, Function, and Rehabilitation; 2009; 1(12): 1091-1097.
  2. Kirschner KL. Lessons of leadership: The uncommon life of Dr Henry B Betts. PM+R: The Journal of Injury, Function, and Rehabilitation;. 2010 Oct;2(10):884-7.
  3. Kirschner KL. “One city; Two worlds.” The Hastings Center Report; 2010; 40(5); 6-7. (invited commentary for In Practice column).
  4. Kirschner KL Brashler R, “Sexuality and a severely brain-injured spouse.” The Hastings Center Report; 2010; 40(3); 14-16.
  5. Kirschner KL. “Glossed over: Injustice by osmosis.” Hasting Center Report 2012; 42(3): inside back cover.
  6. Eickmeyer SM, Do KL, Kirschner KL, Curry RH. “North American medical schools’ experience with and approaches to the needs of students with physical and sensory disabilities.” Acad Med 2012;87(5):567- 573.
  7. Morton D, Le JT, Shahbandar L, Hammond C, Murphy EA, Kirschner KL. Pregnancy outcomes of women with physical disabilities: A matched cohort study. PM&R 2013; 5(2): 90-98.
  8. Kirschner KL. The Outlier. Hastings Cent Rep. 2013 43; 1:8-9.
  9. Volpe RL, Crites JS, Kirschner KL. “Temporizing after spinal cord injury,” Hastings Center Report 2015; 45 (2): 8-10.
  10. Kirschner KL. Physician paternalism and severe disability: Strengthening autonomy through therapeutic engagement. AMA Journal of Ethics 2015; 17:500-505.
  11. Kirschner KL. He’s in there somewhere! Reflecting on the past, present, and future of disorders of consciousness, AJOB Neuroscience, 2018; 9:2, 73-75.
  12. Kezar L, Kirschner KL, Cinchot D, Zazove P, Laird-Metke E, Curry RH. Leading Practices and Future Directions for Technical Standards in Medical Education,” Acad Med 2019; 94(4):520-527.
  13. Kirschner KL. “Parental Request for Hysterectomy: Sorting Out Reasons, Risks, Rights, and Bias.” American Journal of Bioethics 2018; 18(1): 71-73.
  14. Kirschner KL. “The Hail Mary Pass.” In From the Heart, JAMA Card 2019;4(2):93-94.
  15. Kirschner KL. Commentary on "All Bodies": US perspective. RHiME (Research and Humanities in Medical Education). 2020; 7: 108-11.
  16. Blauwet C, Brashler R, Kirschner KL, Mukherjee D. “Vulnerability, Interdependence, Trust in the COVID-19 Pandemic.” PM&R: Journal of Injury, Function, Rehabilitation. PM&R: Journal of Injury, Function and Rehabilitation. 2020: Oct;12(10):1038-1044.
  17. Kirschner KL. Drama and Trauma: Unpacking Moral Distress in the Context of Discharge Planning. Narrative Inquiries in Bioethics 2020; 10(3); 223-230
  18. Owen A, Singh S, Kirschner KL. Disability activism and non-invasive prenatal testing: A response to Breimer. Indian J Med Ethics 2020;4:1-9. DOI:20529/IJME.2020.112
  19. (As guest editor) Mukherjee D, Kirschner K, Ushkow S, et al. People with Pediatric-onset Complex Disabilities: Good News, Bad News. PM&R 2020; 12(6): 602-609.
  20. Kirschner KL, Iezzoni LI, Shah T. The invisible COVID workforce: direct care workers for those with disabilities 2020.
  21. Chandan P, Kirschner KL, Prokup J, Blauwet CA. Demonstrating the Vital Role of Physiatry Throughout the Healthcare Continuum: Lessons Learned from Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Disability Community. PM&R: Journal of Injury, Function and Rehabilitation 2021; 109: 589-598
  22. Haywood C, Kirschner KL. Persistent Gaps in the Care of Patients with Disability: Laws Are Necessary but Not Sufficient.The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety 2021 Oct;47(10):612-614.
  23. Chicoine C, Hickey EE, Kirschner KL, Chicoine BL. Ableism at the Bedside: People with Disabilities and COVID-19. J Am B Fam Med 2022; 35(2): 390-393.
  24. Mukherjee D, Tarsney PS, Kirschner K. If Not Now, Then When? Taking Disability Seriously in Bioethics. Hastings Center Report 2022; 52(3): 37-48.
  25. Chicoine B, Kirschner KL. Considering Dignity of Risk in the Care of People with Intellectual Disabilities: A Clinical Perspective. Persp Biol Med 2022; 65(2): 189-198.

Last updated 9.21.22

Research Interest

ORCID 0000-0003-0651-3678


University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine (1986)
Internship in Internal Medicine, Michael Reese Hospital, Chicago(1986-87)
Residency in PM&R McGaw Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (1987-1990)
Fellowship in Clinical Medical Ethics at MacLean Center, University of Chicago (1994-95)