HomeStudentsADHCE Student Scholarships ADHCE Scholarships 2019-2020


In 2019-2020 the following two scholarships were awarded and presentations at our June 4, 2020 Annual Meeting

One scholarship was awarded to a group of Occupational Therapy students at Rush University for their Community Healthcare Advocacy Team for Individuals with Disabilities project. Leadership oversight is provided by Dr. Molly Bathje, an Assistant Professor at Rush University in the Department of Occupational Therapy. Here is a brief description:

“Neurodiversity Allies (NDA)"
is an interdisciplinary, student-led community service initiative at Rush University. It aims to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) while they receive health care services at Rush University Medical Center, as well as to enhance health profession students’ knowledge and experience with people with IDD. NDA members include students from RU’s college of medicine, college of nursing, and college of health sciences. Members volunteer in the hospital, ambulatory clinics, and outpatient  programs with a focus on providing support, socialization, and comfort to patients with IDD.

​Lack of knowledge and familiarity about interacting effectively with patients with IDD may lead to negative attitudes towards this population (Tervo & Palmer, 2004). To fill this gap, we proposed an educational series for Rush students to learn more about the care of people with IDD. In alignment with the ADHCE’s competency vision, our ultimate goal was to enhance health professions students’ knowledge and confidence in providing care for people with disabilities.

The educational series addressed ADHCE Core Competency 2: Professionalism and Patient-Centered Care. Due to inadequate training, many health care professionals possess inaccurate assumptions and biases towards patients with disabilities. This lack of training may have a detrimental effect on the quality of services provided to this population. Our educational series served to address these health care disparities by discussing various principles of professionalism, communication, and respect. The series included guest speakers with firsthand experiences to reinforce principles taught at the previous session and to provide valuable patient perspectives. The educational series was presented over the course of 6 months. Each session covered a different principle of ADHCE Core Competency 2, lasting approximately 1 hour in duration.

Session 1 challenged students’ implicit biases and assumptions and taught strategies to approach patients with respect and humility. Session 2 featured a young adult with Down Syndrome discussing their healthcare experiences. Session 3 offered strategies in building a trusting relationship with patients, parents, and caregivers by using understandable and person-first language. Session 4 featured a panel of caregivers who provided concrete examples of these successful relationships. Session 5 offered specific training on selecting and utilizing sensory items for future interactions with this patient population. We concluded the educational program by reminding students of how power dynamics influence care, and discussed strategies to provide patient-centered care to this population. Participants should feel equipped to advocate for equitable care for people with IDD. By the end of the series, we are confident that students will be aware of the assumptions they hold, increase their understanding of the needs of people with IDD, and feel empowered to provide optimal care. Students who attend all sessions will receive a pin to add to their Rush ID, informing patients of their status as an “ally” alongside the IDD population.

​The second scholarship was awarded to Melissa Desroches for her mixed methods study (internet survey with nested qualitative interviews) is to identify perceived barriers and facilitators to quality medical surgical nursing care of adults with intellectual disability. 

​Denise Daudelin, RN, MPH is a co-investigator and is the primary research mentor of Dr. Melissa Desroches. Ms. Daudelin is the Director of Research Process Improvement at Tufts CTSI. Janis Breeze, MPH is the statistical mentor for this study and is also the Associate Director of the Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design Center at Tufts CTSI.  Dr. Kathleen Fisher is a co-investigator, an established ID nursing researcher, and a Professor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Drexel University. Dr. Fisher will assist with qualitative data analysis. Here is a brief description:

“People with intellectual disabilities (ID) face many health disparities, many specific to hospital care: these individuals have higher rates of hospitalization than those without ID, are admitted for conditions which would usually be treated in an outpatient setting, and have longer lengths of stay and increased safety risks (Iacono, Bigby, Unsworth, Douglas, & Fitzpatrick, 2014). Reviews of hospital experiences of people with ID reveal negative attitudes and lack of preparation of healthcare providers to care for people with ID (Iacono, 2014). While the majority of professional hospital care is provided by medical-surgical nurses (Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses, 2019), we are not aware of any studies to date exploring the attitudes and experiences of medical-surgical nurses toward caring for adults with ID in the US. This is despite the fact that medical-surgical nursing care is a primary factor affecting the quality of hospital care experienced by people with ID and their caregivers (Lewis, Gaffney, & Wilson, 2016). The goal of this mixed methods study (internet survey with nested qualitative interviews) is to identify perceived barriers and facilitators to quality medical surgical nursing care of adults with ID. Medical surgical nurses are the “glue” that hold together the input of many health professionals and the many moving pieces of hospital care. As such, exploring the experiences of medical surgical nurses will inform multidisciplinary educational and quality improvement interventions to improve hospital care of adults with ID.

        About the association

        The Alliance for Disability in Health Care Education, Inc. (ADHCE), is a “501 (c) (3) Public Charity”  organization of healthcare educators and professionals who are working to integrate disability-related content and experiences into healthcare education and training programs.

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