Competency-Based Curriculum Development to Meet the Needs of People with Disabilities: A Call to Action

Nethra S. Ankam, Glendaliz Bosques, Carley Sauter, Steven Stiens, Maya Therattil, Faren H. Williams, Caleb C. Atkins, R. Samuel Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


People with disabilities constitute 22.2% of the population in the United States, and virtually all physicians have people with disabilities in their clinical practice across a wide range of diagnostic groups. However, studies demonstrate that people with disabilities are inadequately served by the health care system, leading to high costs and poor outcomes. The authors argue that one cause of this discrepancy is that medical students receive limited training in the care of people with disabilities and may therefore not be able to adequately meet the competencies that underlie the Core Entrustable Professional Activities for Entering Residency. To address these gaps, the authors present practical examples of integrating concepts of disability into the curriculum with minimal additional time requirements. A comprehensive disability curriculum is suggested to include active classroom learning, clinical, and community-based experiences. At institutions that do not have a comprehensive curriculum, the authors recommend adding disability-related knowledge and skill acquisition to existing curricula through modifications to current case-based learning, simulated patients, and objective structured clinical examinations. To facilitate curriculum development, they recommend that the World Health Organization International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health be used as a tool to build disability concepts into active learning. The goal of these recommended curricular changes is to enhance student performance in the clinical management of people with disabilities and to better train all future physicians in the care of this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)781-788
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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