The Arc of Massachusetts is pleased to announce that we are continuing to grow our Operation House Call program (OHC). OHC is a required disability awareness program which began at Boston University School of Medicine. Over 180 BU medical students complete this program each year. The program includes a class taught by a parent of a child with I/DD or autism and co-teacher (person with I/DD or autism) and a two-hour home visit made by medical students. Medical as well as non-medical issues are discussed within the framework of the students’ pediatric training. Its purpose is to enhance a future doctor’s skills and ability to effectively partner with families, caregivers, and individuals with I/DD or autism in providing health care.
In 2012, OHC grew to include programs at Tufts Medical School and Simmons College. In the fall of 2015, OHC will begin teaching at Yale School of Nursing. Maura Sullivan, OHC Program Director and Instructor at BUSM, will teach at Yale and has adapted the OHC model to be offered as a credited Independent Study.
Maura is also working to develop the program in regions of Massachusetts that we have not reached. Our goal is to increase access to quality health care for people with I/DD or autism. Currently, there is not enough access to primary and specialty care for people with I/DD or autism and we have an increasing need with a greater number of children being diagnosed with autism. The current prevalence of autism is 1 in 68 children. OHC works to build confidence and sensitivity in young doctors, as well as eliminate bias that can affect treatment. When we connect medical students to people with I/DD or autism, we see curiosity and interest grow, which in turn leads to more available and higher quality care for our loved ones.
A key component to this program’s success is the willingness of over 150 volunteer families who agree to host students for a two-hour home visit. Families act as educators providing the students with personal experiences outside of a clinical setting. Warmth, honesty, and the sharing of personal experience make families excellent teachers of future doctors.
Here are two quotes from medical students about their experiential learning opportunity:
“This home visit was a great experience and very integral not just to pediatric education but medical education in general. It is rare to get an opportunity to so deeply and extensively connect with a family in their environment but very essential to becoming to complete practitioner.”
“Seeing this glimpse of the family gave us a brief insight into the lives of this family that I would not have seen in a 15 minute office visit. Their love and compassion for their kids is truly inspiring, and made me wonder if I would be able to do what they do, every day, every minute of their lives.”
The OHC model is finding great success with our combination of didactic and experiential learning along with an on-line component and access to vast and relevant resources. If you would like more information on this program or to make a donation to support our work and expansion, please contact Maura Sullivan at The Arc of Mass at 781-891-6270, ext. 113 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read more about Operation House Call on our website.