News & Stories

Decreasing Disability Stigma and Expanding Innovative Educational Opportunities at NEOMED

When thinking about NEOMED’s commitment to develop compassionate, patient-centered health care professionals, Rachel Bracken, Ph.D., and Rebecca Fischbein, Ph.D., assistant professors in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, knew there was more they could do.

Enter the disability studies and health professions expansion proposal funded in the fourth round of strategic initiative funding.

With the goal of decreasing disability stigma and expanding NEOMED health professions students’ exposure, knowledge, comfort and skills related to patients with disabilities, this program will develop and longitudinally evaluate the impact of simulated patient encounters with a variety of clinical scenarios. Aligning with multiple initiatives across the Education and Discovery pillars as well as the Exceptional Experience; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Leadership focus areas, this program will help position the University as a leader in developing disability education.

Work on the project began early this year with four primary action steps identified:

  1. Establish baseline data and identify disability-related learning needs and objectives through focus groups with learners and members of the disability community
  2. Develop scenarios, recruit and train simulated patients
  3. Pilot implementation, evaluation, and revision of simulation
  4. Perform longitudinal, annual evaluation for at least five years to examine impact of disability-focused simulated patient encounters

As the team establishes a baseline, future outcomes of the project will include perceptions of the simulation itself for improvement purposes and surveys of fourth-year medicine and pharmacy students, as well as alumni.

For more information about the program or to get involved, please contact Rachel Bracken at or Rebecca Fischbein at