Aim: To review the perceptions of dental/medical educators and their students in the United States on the adequacy of didactic and clinical preparation to provide service for individuals with disabilities.
Methodology: An e-mailed questionnaire with follow-up was sent to 198 deans of dental/medical schools, 1,628 directors of residency programs in nine medical/dental residency programs, 427 medical students in 12 medical schools, and 368 health related organizations, facilities and programs.
Results: More than half (58%) of the responding deans of reported that a curriculum for patients with disabilities was not a high priority at their school. A majority (61%) of deans of medical schools, and 47% of the deans of dental schools, reported that their graduates were competent to treat patients with disabilities. However, majorities of dental/medical school seniors and graduates expressed inadequate competency in the care of these patients. A majority of the directors of medical/dental residencies indicated a need for additional training for their residents.
Conclusion: There is need for increased didactic and clinical preparation of dental/medical school graduates in the care of individuals with special health needs. The interest expressed by health profession educators in an effort to develop appropriate curriculum modules provides an opportunity to prepare new graduates for the care of an increasing population of individuals with disabilities.