April 10, 2024

MDisability is celebrating a proud moment in April 2024 - Its fifth anniversary!

Achievements include model clinics focusing on people with disabilities; educational opportunities for medical professionals and students; and disability health research projects.

As a collaborative, Family Medicine-supported disability health program, MDisability has taken concrete steps to bring greater awareness and focus on improving primary care for people with disabilities through medical education, research, clinical care, and community partnerships.

As part of the celebration, MDisability members want to thank all of those who have taken part in our monthly meetings; the speakers who have provided educational information for our provider webinar series or Deaf Health Talks; and the 16 former summer interns who are taking what they’ve learned with MDisability and are spreading it across the country in the form of revised medical school curriculum; programs that focus on helping those with disability, medical students and patients alike; and creating new partnerships with established disability health researchers at other health and higher education institutions.

Check out what MDisability has been able to accomplish in the last five years:

  • Our inaugural Disability Health Fellow, Brianna Marzolf, DO, recently founded the Michigan Improves Care, Access, Resources, and Experiences (MI-CARE) to improve primary care for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). This is the second model clinic that focuses on patients with disabilities. The Disability Health Fellowship was launched in Fall 2023.
  • The Deaf Health Clinic, which was our first model clinic, continues to provide accessible and tailored primary care for Deaf and hard of hearing patients at Family Medicine’s Dexter Family Health Center.

These two model clinics provide educational and clinical opportunities for our learners. They also serve as fertile ground for implementing new clinical improvements and undertaking research projects that further address existing health inequities.

We've also have gained tremendous momentum with our various educational programs we’ve developed since MDisability’s establishment in 2019.

  • Our Disability Health Elective and the American Sign Language course provide much-needed training for both the University of Michigan Medical School and visiting students.
  • Our MDisability Provider Webinar series offers primary care provider education. This quarterly webinar covers informative clinical and related disability health care topics. 
  • Our collaboration with Partners in Deaf Health for our Deaf Health Talks. The Deaf Health Talks are an accessible, community-based platform where the public can learn more about different health topics. These talks include American Sign Language services.
  • Our unique and popular MDisability Summer Internship program was designed to provide education and research opportunities in disability health for upper-class college or early graduate/professional students. This program is committed to mentoring students who have an interest in pursuing careers in disability health and enabling them to contribute to the improvement of patient care, research and medical education. The internship has educated 16 interns so far and has four more interns arriving in the summer of 2024. Our past graduates are highly successful, with many of them now attending medical schools, residencies, and other clinical research fields. This internship program has also created a ripple effect, with many of our former interns pursuing clinical and clinical research careers while also creating disability health programs at their respective institutions.

MDisability doesn’t just focus on patient care, general health and medical education. Our MDisability researchers have been highly successful in obtaining grant funding for various disability health projects. This is leading to impactful disability work in both primary care and in other health care settings. Examples of some of MDisability’s funded projects include:

  • Improving online health information accessibility for those with sensory disabilities
  • Examining the risk of dementia and other health conditions among those with spinal cord injuries and Deaf individuals
  • Reducing the risk of polypharmacy among those with intellectual and developmental disabilities in primary care
  • Exploring new ways to conduct cervical cancer screening for those with disabilities
  • Analyzing the impact of electronic health records linked to disability fields on perinatal health accessibility and care quality
  • Tackling reproductive disparities among youth and young adults with disabilities
  • Examining the role of intersectionality on disability health.

Explore the MDisability website and see all the impactful work that we’ve done so far. If you have questions or want to make a connection, please reach out to MDisability Director Michael M. McKee, MD, at [email protected] or MDisability Program Manager Dawn Michael at [email protected].