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Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31826d322d
Diversity and Inclusion in Academic Medicine

The Deaf Strong Hospital Program: A Model of Diversity and Inclusion Training for First-Year Medical Students

Thew, Denise PhD; Smith, Scott R. MD, MPH; Chang, Christopher MD; Starr, Matt MPH

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Abstract

Recent research indicates that the cultural competence training students receive during medical school might not adequately address the issues that arise when caring for patients of different cultures. Because of their unique communication, linguistic, and cultural issues, incorporating deaf people who use sign language into cultural competence education at medical schools might help to bridge this gap in cross-cultural education. The Deaf Strong Hospital (DSH) program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, started in 1998, exposes first-year medical students to the issues that are relevant to providing effective patient care and to establishing multicultural sensitivity early in their medical education. Because medical students better acquire cross-cultural competence through hands-on experience rather than through lectures, the DSH program, which includes a role-reversal exercise in which medical students play the role of the patients, provides such a model for other medical schools and health care training centers to use in teaching future health care providers how to address the relevant cultural, linguistic, and communication needs of both their deaf patients and their non-English-speaking patients. This article describes the DSH program curriculum, shares findings from both medical students’ short-term and long-term postprogram evaluations, and provides a framework for the implementation of a broader cultural and linguistic sensitivity training program specific to working with and improving the quality of health care among deaf people.

© 2012 Association of American Medical Colleges

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