Med Students To Struggle with the Sound of Silence

Deaf Strong Hospital Puts Aspiring Physicians in Shoes of the Deaf

November 12, 2002

On Friday, November 15, first-year students at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry will face a unusual but effective test of their communications skills. For three hours between 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., the students will engage in a role-playing exercise with members of the deaf community. But this time, the students will pose as deaf patients suffering from specific conditions, while deaf volunteers pretend to be physicians and pharmacists. Using only American Sign Language, the “sick” students must describe their symptoms to the “physicians” and obtain the health care they need. They will also be invited to use text telephone, or TTY’s, to call a pharmacy. After the role play, faculty will review the students’ diagnoses to see how often the interaction results in an accurate diagnosis. Students also attend a lecture about the deaf community and health care considerations for the deaf by Robert Pollard, M.D., director of the University’s Deaf Wellness Center. This is the fifth year that the medical school has hosted a program known as Deaf Strong Hospital. Each year, students say that the experience helps them to understand the fear and frustration that deaf patients feel when encountering the health care system. The event is organized by the student organization, Promoting Awareness in Healthcare, Medical and Deaf (PAH, MD), which encourages better understanding and communication between the medical and deaf communities. “Since Rochester is home to the largest per capita deaf population in the U.S., each medical student will likely encounter one or more deaf patients throughout his or her clinical experiences,” said event organizer, Ellen Mowry, a fourth-year medical student and member of PAH, MD. Media is invited to cover the event. Please plan to park near the Arthur Kornberg Research Building and enter through the doors leading to the School of Medicine and Dentistry

For Media Inquiries:
Teri D'Agostino
(585) 275-3676
Email Teri D'Agostino