Objective: To implement a role-reversal exercise to increase first-year pharmacy students' awareness of communication barriers in the health care setting, especially for deaf and hard-of-hearing patients.
Design: Volunteers from the local deaf community conducted Deaf Strong Hospital, a role-reversal exercise in which students were the "patients." Students navigated through a reception area, encounter with a physician, and having a prescription filled at a pharmacy without receiving or using any spoken language.
Assessment: A debriefing session was held in which small groups of students had the opportunity to ask questions of a panel of deaf and hard-of-hearing volunteers. On a survey administered to assess students' learning, 97% agreed or strongly agreed that the experience would likely impact their attitudes and behavior in future interactions with patients who did not speak English.
Conclusions: The role-reversal exercise was an effective method of teaching students that the delivery of health care is dependent on adequate communication between health care providers and the patient.
Keywords: communication; cultural competence; deaf; diversity; hearing impaired.