New Program Goals To Prepare Medical doctors On Developmental Disabilities

First year medical students learn how to use an automated external defibrillator. The federal funds will be used to develop training for health care students on treating people with developmental disabilities. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times / TNS)

New efforts are being made to better prepare future physicians and other health professionals to care for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Health Administration for Community Living has allocated $ 1.75 million over the next five years to the initiative, which will bring five universities together to study existing training and develop materials and standardized, hands-on experience that May be included in the curriculum for medical education students.

“Unfortunately, many medical schools do not include content about the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in their health care student curriculum. All too often, this leads to poorer health outcomes, ”said Julie Hocker, commissioner for the Administration on Disabilities, Administration for Community Living. “This grant closes this critical gap.”

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The developed curriculum will first be implemented at the participating institutions – Rush University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, St. John Fisher College, Villanova University and the University of Minnesota – before it is finally passed on to 30 other schools educate more than 15,000 students in various areas of health care.

Known as the Partnership to Transform Health Outcomes with People with Intellectual Disabilities and Developmental Disabilities (PATH-PWIDD), the project will involve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families at all stages.

“Several international and national agencies and organizations have issued calls for action to address the health inequalities that affect people with (IDD),” said Suzanne Smeltzer of Villanova University, who is involved in the project. “Improving health care student education (IDD) is an important step in preparing future health professionals to deliver quality care to this population.”

This is just the latest effort to address the limited knowledge of developmental disabilities among doctors and other health professionals. In recent years, a University of Louisville program has sought to expand curricula at 12 medical schools to include training for working with patients in this population.

More recently, disability advocates have pushed for the requirement that all medical schools include specific training to treat people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, although this effort has so far been unsuccessful.

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