Twenty Penn medical students assumed the roles of people with disabilities and their caregivers or their support people, among them (left to right) Joseph Pace, Sue Sun Yom, Mike Ganetsky, Jason Stoller, Adam Simmons, Su-Jean Seo, Kevin White, Jolanda White, Malaka Jackson and Louis Littman for a two-day seminar to increase awareness among future physicians of the challenges experienced by people with disabilities.
The seminar is based on the premise that a first-hand understanding of the barriers that patients encounter will enhance understanding and improve communication between doctor and patient.
After an overview of the seminar by faculty and facilitators Alicia M. Conill, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Penn; Jeanne Stanley, Ph.D., coordinator of the masters program in psychological services at Penn's Graduate School of Education; Mary Lou Galantino, M.S., P.T., associate professor of physical therapy in Penn's department of rehabilitation medicine; and Lynn Seng, M.S.Ed., director of special educational projects for Penn's School of Medicine, the students were then assigned roles and partners.
The following day, they ventured forth on campus to negotiate such everyday events as shopping, eating in restaurants and traveling on city streets.
The program was funded through an educational grant to Penn's School of Medicine from the Conill Institute for Chronic Illness, a non-profit entity created for the development of educational programs for people living with chronic illness and those who care for and about them.
Originally published on February 11, 1997