Student Spotlight: Jennifer Ham on the Value of Patient Voices

The Value of Patient Voices: Developing the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Workshop
Jennifer Ham, 3rd year medical student, UBC Vancouver Fraser Medical Program

Upon initiating the project, I was welcomed by Dr. Angela Towle, Dr. William Godolphin, Cathy Kline, and Jen Macdonald with open arms and was connected to the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (WIDHH).

WIDHH is a charity dedicated to providing services and resources that enable people who are Deaf, Deafened, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing to fully participate in a hearing world. The workshop was developed with the goal of introducing health professional students to the barriers and communication strategies that make a great impact on the accessibility of healthcare for the Deaf and hard of hearing.

Working on this project has been a valuable experience, as I have learned from everyone who has been involved in creating this workshop. I have not only learned about the daily challenges that Deaf and hard of hearing people encounter, but also how much of a difference it makes to be an empathetic health professional, who takes the initiative to address some of these challenges.

Over the past 2 years, we held 3 workshops attended by students from dentistry, pharmacy, dental hygiene, social work, medicine, nursing, speech & language pathology, audiology, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy. I feel extremely honoured that this workshop will be added to the Patient & Community Voices Workshop Series as an ongoing workshop that is offered 1-2 times per school year. As we continue to educate students on how to best communicate with the Deaf and hard of hearing, I hope that this will lead to a greater understanding, trust, and care between patients and health professionals.

Thank you to Grace and Maxine at WIDHH for their help with the workshop logistics and helping me become a better facilitator; to the mentors: Maxine, Rick, A.J., Nora, Rosalind, Nicole, David, Tim, Kim,and Tammy, who have shared their voices and enthusiasm in teaching the students; to UBC Access & Diversity for supporting the workshop by providing CART and ASL interpreters; and to the students for showing your interest and curiosity in learning about the Deaf and hard of hearing. Last, but certainly not least, thank you to Cathy, Dr. Towle, Dr. Godolphin, and Jen for guiding me every step of the way and allowing me to learn about how rewarding it is to collaborate with members of the community to educate health professional students.

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