First-year medical students learn how to use an automated external defibrillator. Officials from the American Medical Association and the American Dental Association say they will take steps to improve disability education for medical and dental students. (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times/TNS)
Groups representing the nation’s doctors and dentists are committed to better preparing students in their fields to treat people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, a move that could lead to major improvements in care for people in this population .
The presidents of the American Medical Association and the American Dental Association said they would work to expand disability education for medical and dental students during a performance earlier this summer at the American Academy of Developmental Medicine & Dentistry’s One Voice Conference in Orlando. , Florida.
People with disabilities have long faced health inequalities and the situation is often exaggerated by the fact that many doctors and dentists receive little to no training to meet the needs of such patients. Research shows that physicians have a predominantly negative view of people with disabilities and more than a third of physicians are unaware of their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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Disability advocates have pushed for a requirement in recent years for all medical schools to include specific training on treating people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but that effort has so far been unsuccessful.
The pledge from leaders of the American Medical Association and the American Dental Association was short on details, but officials from the American Academy of Developmental Medicine & Dentistry — which represents health professionals focused on caring for people with developmental disabilities — say the groups are meeting to push things forward. They indicated that they expect to establish a timetable for the training and said they believe it should be mandatory for future doctors and dentists.
“The AMA and ADA presidents outlined plans to provide clinical competency training to both medical and dental students, assuring that people with intellectual disabilities would be appointed to the committees developing those plans,” said the American Academy of Developmental Medicine & Dentistry in a statement. about the meeting.
Rick Rader, senior vice president for external affairs at the American Academy of Developmental Medicine & Dentistry, said the development “is arguably the biggest deal in healthcare for individuals with disabilities.”
“Currently there is little or no formal training, exposure or interaction with patients with complex disabilities in both medical and dental education. Both the AMA and ADA are now known for initiating and promoting formal didactic and clinical training in treating individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and physical disabilities,” Rader said. “It could make a big impact by building accessibility for competent and compassionate care for the community with special needs throughout the lifespan.”
In a statement, the American Dental Association said the effort “will help improve patient care to meet the needs of this community and integrate all healthcare disciplines with one voice. Future collaborative efforts are still underway and additional information will follow.”
The American Medical Association did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the commitment.