Healthcare Parity

Alarming health disparities exist for people with disabilities, and these are exacerbated by the continued barriers to access despite the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) over two decades ago. Patients with disabilities are less likely to receive routine preventive care. It is particularly difficult for people with intellectual disabilities to find a physician who has received even a minimum amount of clinical training in caring for people with disabilities. Our goal is to improve the healthcare provided to people with disabilities by training healthcare providers about the needs of patients with disabilities and improving their attitudes towards this underserved population.

The Education of Medical Students Projects

Susan Havercamp, Director of the Health Promotion and Healthcare Parity Program, has an extensive background in promoting health and access to care for persons with disabilities.

University of South Florida Curriculum Project

One project in particular that she contributed to during her time in Florida is a collaborative effort with the University of South Florida and the Florida Office on Disability and Health at the University of Florida.. The University of South Florida provides disability training to all medical students. The Primary Care Clerkship includes a disability module (Focus on Special Populations) as part of the required core curriculum for third-year medical students. Every year, 120 medical students spend 8-16 half days in a disability-related activity including the following:

  • Didactic sessions.
  • Hands-on clinical training with children and adults with disabilities.
  • Students learn about living with a disability through visiting community sites including group homes for people with developmental disabilities and visiting persons with disabilities in their homes.

Anecdotally, students at USF reported that they found the module enlightening, gained respect for persons with disabilities, and experience diminished anxiety about caring for people with disabilities. We found statistically significant improvement in students’ attitudes toward persons with disabilities, students’ knowledge of disabilities, and students’ comfort providing care to persons with disabilities after participating compared to pre-test.

The Ohio State University Curriculum Project

With close involvement to changes in the undergraduate medical student curriculum, we will use evaluations from the USF training modules to insert required projects and activities involving students directly with volunteers who have disabilities in both informal and formal (Clinical Skills Center) experiences.

Autism Spectrum Disorders in Medical Education

Karen Ratliff-Schaub and Susan Havercamp are working with Ohio State University medical educators to give students some experience providing care to people with autism spectrum disorders. Volunteers with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) will be recruited and trained to work with students as part of an innovative project funded by a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant. These volunteers will be prepared to work as Standardized Patients (SPs) in the OSU Clinical Skills Center.

Disability Continuing Education for Healthcare Providers

We developed two online disability training modules on Healthcare Access for Persons with Disabilities that have been accredited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for physicians, nurses, psychologists, and certified health education specialists. Part I focuses on physical and sensory disabilities, and Part II focuses on developmental disabilities.

» Click here to access the training modules

For more information please contact Susan Havercamp, Ph.D. at (614) 685-8724 or

The Alliance for Disability in Health Care Education

The Alliance for Disability in Health Care Education is a non-profit organization that includes medical and nursing school faculties and other healthcare educators. This Alliance works together to integrate disability-related content and experiences into healthcare education programs. The team endeavors to insure that the need for disability-related content is recognized and addressed through the efforts of its journal publications, conference presentations, and representation on advisory panels and workgroups.

Serving on the Alliance’s Board of Directors, Susan Havercamp works with this team of educators to improve disability education for healthcare providers. One project includes the imbedding of disability objectives and activities in the new Lead.Serve.Inspire undergraduate medical curriculum at the Ohio State University.