University of Pittsburgh

Disabilities Medicine

Background

Physicians will always be required to care for patients with a wide variety of disabilities both during training and in clinical practice. As the population ages and medical science allows patients to live longer and more productive lives despite serious disabilities, students must be introduced to issues germane to care of this specialized group of patients.

Goal

All students will have exposure to patients with disabilities and be able to take a complete history and do a thorough physical exam of these patients.

Implementation

Clinical Experiences

Students assigned to physicians who care specifically for patients with disabilities either in rehabilitation medicine, adult medicine or pediatrics, are exposed to patients with disabilities early in their preclinical curriculum.

Adult Inpatient Medicine

Students rotate throughout two of the three teaching facilities and are therefore exposed on a regular basis to patients with disabilities ranging from paraplegia to hearing or visual problems that affect functional status and students are frequently assigned to these patients as well. Adult Inpatient Medicine Clerkship

Combined Ambulatory Medicine and Pediatrics (CAMPC)

Students rotate at outpatient sites that as a routine part of their population include patients with disabilities, oftentimes, those who are struggling with the impact of their disability while living in the community. Combined Ambulatory and Pediatric Medicine Clerkship

The Area of Concentration (AOC) in Disabilities Medicine

is designed for a small number of students with a strong interest in developing additional expertise in the issues facing individuals with disabilities in our health care system and society. A certificate from the School of Medicine will be awarded at the completion of four years of requirements.

This AOC prepares interested medical students for health care careers serving children and adults with disabilities. Disabilities Medicine encompasses the body of knowledge about disabilities at multiple levels of analysis: the biological basis of disability, recommended clinical practices, functional impacts of disability and its treatment, environmental, social and community determinants of outcomes, and public health.

The AOC promotes the development of skills in person- and family-centered practice, collaborative decision-making, functional assessments, cultural competence, and chronic care delivery. Participants learn about community resources and policies that interact with health care to improve clinical and functional outcomes for people with disabilities. Students who participate in the AOC in Disabilities Medicine support the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of community life. Disabilities Medicine AOC

Advanced Clinical Skills Course

As part of the Advanced Clinical Skills Course, there is an elective that is offered on the examination of patients with physical disabilities. A wide variety of electives are also offered to all students through the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department as well as Pediatrics. Advanced Clinical Skills Course

Opportunities

Currently, the Advanced Physical Examination course is exploring ways to get consistent exposure to examining patients with a variety of problems, including congenital versus acquired, motor, sensory or cognitive disabilities to identify a few.