Introduction to Disability and Health for Preclinical Medical Students

Date of Review: October, 2018

The authors of this resource, from MedEdPORTAL, collaborated with individuals with disabilities to craft a 2.5 hour, 3-component session, to introduce first-year medical students to the complexity of disability. A slide presentation lays out the history of disability in the US, focusing on systematic discrimination and the advocacy efforts and laws which have combatted it. The presentation explains the distinction between the medical and social models of disability. A survey of the class is administered prior to the activity in order to integrate students’ perspectives and baseline knowledge of disability into the presentation. After the presentation, a panel of four speakers with various disabilities presents about their experience, and then the class breaks into groups to define disability and report back their definitions. The authors offer a list of resources that can be used to recruit speakers from local disability organizations, as well as a set of questions to send panelists in advance of the session. Student ratings for the curriculum are around 3.8 on a scale of 5, which in my experience is slightly low for a session involving patients, but the content is crucial. Additional interactive components earlier in the lecture might be helpful to add. — Heather Heiman, MD, NCEAS

Corresponding Author’s Email:


Mayo School of Medicine

Where Was the Curriculum Implemented?

Rochester, MN

Source of the Curriculum/Resource:


Clinical Specialty:

Emergency medicine, family and community medicine, internal medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry and behavioral sciences

Outcomes that Have Been Reported for the Curriculum:

Learner satisfaction or reaction

Outcome and Study Design:

Post only

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