Effects of a disability awareness and skills training workshop on senior medical students as assessed with self ratings and performance on a standardized patient case.

BACKGROUND: People with disabilities compose one of the largest and fastest growing subgroups of the U.S. population. Disability and rehabilitation issues are not well covered in most North American medical school curricula. This article describes the development and assessment of a 3-hr workshop for medical students on disability skills and awareness.

DESCRIPTION: Fourth-year medical students on a required clerkship participated in the workshop on alternate months. The efficacy of the intervention was measured by a comparison between the participant and control students using a pretest and posttest self-efficacy questionnaire and a one-station Standardized Patient (SP) Clinical Case depicting a hemiplegic patient and a caregiver.

EVALUATION: Factor analysis of the survey yielded 4 subscales: Attitude, Advocacy, Interaction, Obtaining Services. There was a significant difference between the treatment and control group on the advocacy scale and on the SP communication and interstation exercises.

CONCLUSION: A targeted educational intervention can have a positive effect on medical students’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward patients with disabilities.