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Improving Medical Students' Understanding of Patients with Cognitive Disabilities Through Service Learning.

Abstract

11 students to date have participated in a Special Olympics volunteer event as part of the study. After completing the event, 10 students reported improved knowledge of healthcare barriers faced by IWCD and improved knowledge of needs of family members of IWCD. 8 students reported improved ability to demonstrate respect to IWCD. 5 students reported improved comfort level in interacting with IWCD. 9 students reported an increased likelihood that they would ask friends and colleagues not to use the word 'retarded' as a negative descriptor (I consider this an important measure of how willing medical students are to advocate for this population in daily life). Students provided qualitative written and verbal feedback that demonstrated that they felt inspired and moved by the events. All students surveyed would like formal teaching in this subject, implying that they think this population will be a small but historically underserved portion of their patient population no matter what residencies they choose to pursue.

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