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Disability Medicine- UI Health*

Updated: 05/29/24

This elective will be available starting August 1, 2024.

The following dates are not available

PREREQUISITES AND PLACEMENT IN THE CURRICULUM: Must have completed Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics Clerkship

Narrative Description:

The purpose of this course is to teach medical students how to provide high-quality health care to individuals with physical disabilities and/or intellectual and developmental disabilities. People with disabilities (PWDs) experience health disparities when compared to the general population, and we hope to improve the health outcomes for this population by training their future physicians who will care for them across all healthcare fields. One in every four adults in the United States has a disability, so all doctors will care for PWDs in their practice and will utilize the competencies learned in this course. The educational opportunities provided in this course include: clinical time in a primary care clinic for kids and adults with disabilities; clinical time in specialty clinics that care for this population including a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics clinic and a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation clinic; a “Day in the Life” experience with a person with a disability; community based experiences; one-on-one clinical practice experience with a patient instructor with a disability who will give the student feedback on clinical and communication skills; and interactive learning modules. The two week course will be mostly in person, with the exception of a couple of half days dedicated to the online learning modules which can be done virtually.

Learning Objectives:

At the conclusion of the course students will be able to:

  1. Provide patient-centered and disability-competent care to patients with a wide range of disabilities.
  2. Acquire a conceptual framework of disability in the context of human diversity, the lifespan, wellness, injury and social and cultural environments.
  3. Explore and mitigate one’s own implicit biases and avoid making assumptions about a person’s abilities or lack of abilities and lifestyle.
  4. Understand and identify legal requirements for providing health care in a manner that is, at minimum, consistent with federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Rehabilitation Act, and Social Security Act to meet the individual needs of people with disabilities
  5. Engage and collaborate with team members within and outside their own discipline to provide high quality, interprofessional team-based health care to people with disabilities.
  6. Collect and interpret relevant information about the health and function of patients with disabilities to engage patients in creating a plan of care that includes essential and optimal services and supports


Description of Learning Activities

  1. You will be precepted by Dr Hickey (and a second complex care PCP– to be named) during 7 half day primary care continuity clinic encounters and have a chance to see, examine and present to Dr Hickey approx. 2-3 patients on a half day.
  2. You will also have a chance to spend 6 half days in specialty clinics learning about medically fragile technologically dependent children, medical equipment, pediatric autism and developmental disorders, augmentative communication and PM&R.
  3. Simulated clinical encounters with Patient Instructors with a variety of disabilities.
  4. Online disability modules (each about one hour)—7 will be mandatory and 2 elective Modules. These will be on topics ranging from disability civil rights, conceptual frameworks of disability, to assistive technology, feeding tubes/nutrition, ventilation, universal design, care of people with sickle cell disease, spasticity management etc.
  5. Case Discussions: once during the two week elective you will have the opportunity to present a patient case to the interprofessional complex care team for facilitated discussion.
  6. You will have precepted community experiences spending time with a person with disability in their home setting, and attending some community sites serving people with disabilities.

Daily Responsibilities:

Weekly responsibilities will be approximately 8 am to 5 pm from Monday through Friday. The

Required and Recommended Reading/ Educational Resources:

The online modules will be the only required learning material.

Recommended Reading/ Educational Resources: Though these are not required, they are high quality histories documenting on a more personal level the genesis of the disability rights movement.

  1. Award winning Documentary: Crip Camp.

“No one at Camp Jened could’ve imagined that those summers in the woods together would be the beginnings of a revolution. In the early 1970s, teenagers with disabilities faced a future shaped by isolation, discrimination and institutionalization. Camp Jened, a ramshackle camp “for the handicapped” (a term no longer used) in the Catskills, exploded those confines. Jened was their freewheeling Utopia, a place with summertime sports, smoking and make-out sessions awaiting everyone, and campers experienced liberation and full inclusion as human beings. Their bonds endured as many migrated West to Berkeley, California — a hotbed of activism where friends from Camp Jened realized that disruption, civil disobedience, and political participation could change the future for millions. Crip Camp is the story of one group of people and captures one moment in time. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other equally important stories from the Disability Rights Movement that have not yet received adequate attention. We are committed to using the film’s platform to amplify additional narratives in the disability rights and disability justice communities – with a particular emphasis on stories surrounding people of color and other intersectionally marginalized communities. We stand by the creed of nothing about us, without us. For too long, too many were excluded, and it is time to broaden the number of voices and share the mic.”

  1. Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist (Judy Heumann).

“Paralyzed from polio at eighteen months, Judy’s struggle for equality began early in life. From fighting to attend grade school after being described as a “fire hazard” to later winning a lawsuit against the New York City school system for denying her a teacher’s license because of her paralysis, Judy’s actions set a precedent that fundamentally improved rights for disabled people. As a young woman, Judy rolled her wheelchair through the doors of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in San Francisco as a leader of the Section 504 Sit-In, the longest takeover of a governmental building in US history. Working with a community of over 150 disabled activists and allies, Judy successfully pressured the Carter administration to implement protections for disabled peoples’ rights, sparking a national movement and leading to the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

As with all elective clinical and non-clinical rotations in the college of medicine curriculum, the grading for the rotation will be on a Pass/Fail basis. In order to achieve a Pass, students will need to complete the five clinical experiences outlined above, as well as at least satisfactory evaluations from their preceptors. If they miss any of the experiences, they will need to have the absence excused through the existing College of Medicine pathways in order to still Pass the course.

Administrative Information Heading link

  • Program Number

    ELEC 543

  • Program Contacts

    Program Director: Erin Hickey, MD

    Coordinator: Meg Baltes


  • Program Information

    Duration: 2  weeks
    Students Accepted: Min. 0 Max. 2
    Housestaff used as faculty: Yes
    Independent Study hours per week: 8
    Inpatient hours per week: 0
    Outpatient hours per week: 32

    Total average hours/week: 40