Erik N. Swartz, MD, MD, University of British Columbia, Richmond, BC, Canada, Andrea Gates, Richmond Health Services, Richmond, BC, Canada, Darlene Hicks, Richmond Health Services, Richmond, BC, Canada
CONTEXT/SETTING Physicians have always been dependent on our paramedical colleagues for diagnosis and treatment of many disorders. In no specialty is this more evident than Pediatrics. Unfortunately, it is rare for our trainees to gain much exposure to professions other than medicine and nursing outside of chance encounters in the hospital.
INTERVENTION Year 3 medical students in a 2-week community pediatrics rotation have been placed for one-half day at a public health centre. They spend two hours observing a speech language pathology assessment after a brief orientation. Afterwards the learners proceed to the audiology department where they observe a hearing test and are taught very basic audiogram interpretation skills.
OBSERVATIONS When students are debriefed during their end-of-rotation exit interviews they are always asked about their most important and interesting sessions. Much of the time, the speech language pathology and audiology morning is singled out as a favorite. Interestingly, students often comment on how surprised they were at the "usefulness" of the encounter.
DISCUSSION It is essential that future physicians are exposed to a wide variety of paramedical professions early in their training. A short half-day session was enough to give our students a basic appreciation of speech language pathology and audiology so that hopefully they are more comfortable with these disciplines when they graduate. In the future, we hope to reciprocate by having speech pathology and audiology students in our pediatric ambulatory clinics.