Inclusion of topics concerning developmental disabilities into the medical curriculum of future doctors
- Developmental medicine as a compulsory curriculum
- Country of Implementation
- Start Year
- First published
“It is gratifying to see the great interest shown by students.” Johannes Fellinger, Dean, Medical Faculty, Johannes Kepler University
The Johannes Kepler University, based in Linz, Austria, has designed a curriculum of developmental medicine to train future doctors in the needs and rights of persons with disabilities. Modules such as developmental medicine and determining developmental profiles ensure that doctors have the skillset to provide adequate medical support to persons with disabilities. Between 2014 and 2022 all 600 medical students of the faculty have been taught this new curriculum.
In the conventional medical curricula for future doctors the special health care needs of persons with disabilities is not adequately reflected.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Since 2014 the medical faculty at Johannes Kepler University Linz has considered the individual needs of persons with disabilities in its curriculum. At the start of a student’s medical studies, ethics coursework emphasizes the dignity and rights of persons with disabilities. Those directly affected are actively involved in the courses so as to emphasize the importance of participation and its prerequisites. Courses and lectures in paediatrics, neurology, psychiatry, and otorhinolaryngology (ears, nose, and throat) address the situations of individuals with various developmental disabilities, analysing their medical and psychosocial needs. The role of parents and relatives is taken into consideration as well. Interested students can opt for the non-mandatory subject called developmental medicine during their final year of study, allowing them to enter deeper into multi-professional work with individuals with developmental disabilities. Starting in 2022 a sign language course for medical students has been offered, for which there is considerably more interest than spots available. This curriculum equips future doctors with the necessary skills to interact effectively with individuals who have developmental disabilities, benefiting the individuals themselves, their caregivers, and their families.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
Johannes Kepler University is publicly funded, and tuition fees are compulsory at all Austrian universities. Within the designated duration of studies plus two tolerance semesters, EU or EEA citizens are exempt from tuition fees. The university plans to further expand and broaden the curriculum, including developmental medicine. (Awardee 2024)