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Medical students present collaborative clinical service-learning program at national medical education conference

December 08, 2016

Wayne State University School of Medicine third-year medical students Crystal Zhang and Jenny Mi have earned national attention for their presentation of a collaborative partnership between a student organization and WSU’s Developmental Disabilities Institute.

“Assessment of Changes in Medical Student Perceptions of Children with Developmental Disabilities and Family Perceptions of Physician Empathy and Trust Before and After a Home Visit Program” was presented most recently as a digital poster at The Generalists in Medical Education 2016 Conference in Seattle.

The poster was co-authored by Director of Co-Curricular Programs Jennifer Mendez, Ph.D., who also attend the conference.

The presentation, given utilizing PowerPoint, summarized a home-visit program through the Arie Foundation, a School of Medicine student organization that provides support and comfort to pediatric patients and their families.

The program supports the medical profession’s transition to a patient-centered care model, exposing medical students to diverse patient interactions as early as the first year of their medical education. Participating medical students visit Macomb, Oakland and Wayne county families who have children with intellectual, physical and developmental disabilities, in collaboration with the WSU Developmental Disabilities Institute. The program gives students the opportunity to assess their attitudes and perceptions of people with developmental disabilities and interact on a personal level with families. They also gain insight into the home life, medical needs and personal concerns of the family, which translates into greater empathy and understanding of the specific needs of families.

The program requires two medical students to complete two home visits, each scheduled for two hours, approximately 30 to 60 days apart, with a phone call in between. The families complete surveys on physician empathy adapted for health professions students, patient perceptions of physician empathy and a general physician trust scale. Students assess their perceptions of disability and definitions and criteria associated with disabilities assessments.

“I felt that the presentation went really well. We had exactly six minutes to go through 10 slides, and I'm proud to say that out of the six presenters, Jenny and I were the only ones who stayed within the time limit,” said Zhang, who is in the school’s M.D./M.P.H. combined degree program.

“We had several people tell us that we did a great job and enjoyed our presentation,” she added. “Every medical educator welcomed us warmly and was happy to see us, as medical students, attend and contribute our perspectives to the conference.”

Both students have participated in the home visit program since it launched three years ago. They have presented the research at the 2015 National Academies of Practice annual conference in Virginia, the 2016 American Academy on Communication in Healthcare Annual Conference in Connecticut, and the 2016 WSU Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Fellow Research Day. They also are in progress on a submission to the journal Perspectives on Medical Education.

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