Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) will offer a course

beginning January 10 that will help health professions educators teach how

to better care for patients with disabilities.

The survey course is the first of its kind, according to Brenda Premo, a

nationally recognized expert on disability issues and the founding

director of WesternU’s Center for Disability Issues and the Health

Professions (CDIHP). Several institutions of higher learning have classes

on disability issues, Premo said, but none currently take the survey

approach covering solely the instruction of health care professions

educators (the people who go on to train medical, nursing, therapy and

other health care students). The 10-week class will help these student

educators include these issues in their own classes when they go on to

train health professions students themselves.

Course topics include a history of disabilities and the health

professions, an overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),

assistive technology and health care, blindness and vision loss, and aging

with a disability. Premo will teach several sessions, as will additional

experts on health care and disability, including June Kailes, recently

reappointed by President Clinton as chair of the Architectural and

Transportation Barriers Compliance Board; Mary Lou Breslin, MA, of the

Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund; and Paul K. Longmore, PhD,

director of San Francisco State University’s Institute on Disability.

“”By educating the professionals who train doctors, nurses, physical

therapists, pharmacists and other health care workers to become aware of

and sensitive to the needs of persons with a disability, those future

health professionals will then go on to become even more skilled and

compassionate care givers – to all their patients,”” Premo said.

The survey course, titled “”Educating Health Professionals: Persons with

Disabilities and the Health Professions,”” is part of WesternU’s Master of

Science in Health Professions Education program, but any health

professional, educator or member of the general public is welcome to

attend. Cost of the course is $575.

WesternU founded the CDIHP in 1998 in response to the concerns of the

disabled community, which is emerging as one of the nation’s fastest

growing and least understood minority groups. The Center’s goals include

but are not limited to: improving the capabilities of health care

providers to meet the growing needs of people with disabilities,

increasing the number of qualified individuals with disabilities who

pursue careers in the health professions, and empowering people with

disabilities to become more vocal and active participants in their health

care.

The “”Educating Health Professionals”” course is a prototype for more in-

depth courses in the future on each of the issues to be covered, Premo

said.

For more information, call Premo at (909) 469-5385.