Deaf and Hard of Hearing Learners in Emergency Medicine
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.5811/westjem.2018.8.38550
Approximately 23% of Americans over age 12 have some level of hearing loss.1 Emergency departments can reduce healthcare barriers for deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHoH) patients through improved patient-physician communication. DHoH students, once they become physicians, may provide one mechanism for reducing existing healthcare disparities and communication barriers for DHoH patients, and may be more adept with patients facing other communication barriers. A renewed interest in disability access and a commitment to social justice has increased efforts toward the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in medical education and training. Despite this increased interest and a growing number of DHoH students entering medical education, DHoH students continue to be dissuaded from specialty careers such as emergency medicine (EM) over concerns regarding effective communication and ability. Given the academic medicine communities’ commitment to diversity, a recounting of the successful inclusion of DHoH students in EM can benefit medical education and practice.
In this account, the authors reflect on the successful experiences of a visiting DHoH medical student in an academic EM rotation at a Level I trauma hospital that serves a diverse population, and they identify the potential challenges for DHoH students in an EM setting, offer solutions including reasonable accommodations, and provide commentary on the legal requirements for providing full and equal access for DHoH students. We secured permission from the student to share the contents of this article prior to publication.