Teaching Future Physician Assistants to Provide ADEPT-CARE to Disabled Patients: A Novel Application of Disability Curriculum

Lydia Smeltz, Larissa Whitney, Tonya King, Nora Newcomb, Ami L. DeWaters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction Physician assistant (PA) students will be certain to provide care to patients with disabilities in their future careers. However, there is a dearth of literature on disability-related education in PA training. This curriculum sought to fill this need. The specific aims of this study were to (1) evaluate the implementation of a 3-part disability-focused education curriculum in PA education, (2) assess changes in PA students’ self-perceived confidence and attitudes toward patients with disabilities, and (3) assess students’ attitudes toward ADEPT-CARE. Methods A 3-part disability curriculum was implemented into the first-year PA curriculum at a single Mid-Atlantic institution. Students could voluntarily complete pre and post-surveys which assessed their self-perceived confidence and attitudes toward people with disabilities, perception of the curriculum, and attitudes toward ADEPT-CARE and disability health. Results Thirty students participated in the study, with a 100% survey response rate. Nearly all participants agreed or strongly agreed that this curriculum enhanced their medical education (n = 28, 96.6%, frequency missing n = 1). After curriculum completion, there was a statistically significant improvement in participants’ confidence in their ability to assess patients with disability (46.7%–93.3%, P < 0.001), ability to provide the same quality of care to patients with disability as those without disability (80.0%–96.7%, P = 0.025), and perception of quality of life of persons with disabilities (P = 0.030). Discussion This curriculum was well received by PA students and improved their attitudes toward patients with disabilities, thereby fulfilling a critical need for PA educators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-197
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Physician Assistant Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Medical Assisting and Transcription

Cite this