Teaching medical students about disability and rehabilitation: methods and student feedback

Crotty, Maria, Finucane, Paul and Ahern, Michael (2000) Teaching medical students about disability and rehabilitation: methods and student feedback. pp. 659-664. ISSN 1365-2923


The predicted increase in the prevalence of chronic and disabling diseases in the population over the next 30 years calls for a more effective approach to educating medical students about the assessment and management of disability. The introduction of a new postgraduate medical course at Flinders University of South Australia in 1996 allowed the development of a new topic on disability and rehabilitation. Over a 4-week period, students undertake four activities. First, they follow a particular patient in an inpatient rehabilitation setting and learn about the multidisciplinary approach to rehabilitation. Secondly, they each visit two people with a disability living in the community and assess their physical, mental, functional and social status. Thirdly, they each visit a service which supports those people in the community. Finally, they simulate having a disability which is randomly allocated to them. During these 4 weeks, students also participate in problem-based learning (PBL) and have 27 h of associated sessions or lectures. The PBL cases and associated sessions have a ‘chronic disease’ theme. We developed a questionnaire to obtain student feedback on this new topic in the first 2 years of its delivery. A 69% response rate has been obtained. Overall, the topic was well-received, and as a result most students felt more comfortable in dealing with disabled people. They were enthusiastic about ward work, and enjoyed learning about aspects of multidisciplinary team care. Exercises involving simulation of disability were largely acceptable. We believe that this topic helps our students to deal better with the problems of disabled people.

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