What can I learn from this interaction? A qualitative analysis of medical student self-reflection and learning in a standardized patient exercise about disability

J Health Commun. 2009 Dec;14(8):797-811. doi: 10.1080/10810730903295526.


Patients with disabilities receive fewer health services than the general population, yet they have greater health needs. Similarly, physicians report limited training in disability. The current project examines medical students' learning about disability in a project using individuals with disabilities as medical educators. Family medicine clerkship students (N = 138) across an academic year were videotaped during interviews with standardized patient educators with disabilities and during feedback sessions following the interactions. Qualitative analysis of feedback transcripts identifies three primary areas of integrating learning, reflective practice, and disability: (1) learning how disability impacts the treatment plan, (2) self-reflection and recognizing attitudes about disability, and (3) learning about the practice of medicine generally from the disability exercise. Themes are identified within each of the primary learning areas. Medical student reflection provides evidence of learning to connect disability with pain, everyday life, and treatment. Medical students learned to recognize patients' expertise in their own condition and in health care navigation. Medical students also examined how their language implies attitude. The current investigation provided evidence of the ways examining disability can serve as a cornerstone for building relationship-centered patient care and encouraging reflective practice overall.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Clerkship / methods*
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Patient Simulation
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Problem-Based Learning / methods*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Students, Medical / psychology*