Hannah Roberts was a first-year-medical student at Columbia University College of Physicians in 2013 when she noticed her classmates were having an especially tough time relating to dementia patients.
"There's a misconception that dementia patients are like toddlers in a way," Roberts says. Many medical students, she says, "are intimidated at the challenge of having to get accurate histories and establish a connection with someone who has a limited ability to communicate."
Roberts had some previous work experience with Alzheimer's patients and knew the encounters didn't have to be so strained. "These are adults who've led full rich lives, who have lots of knowledge and personalities that are still very present," she says. But that's not always initially apparent "unless you dig a little."
Could a field trip together to the local art museum help?
...The students' scores afterward suggested a "modest increase" in comfort level in dealing with dementia patients, the researchers say, but the students' comments suggested the lessons ran even deeper.
"It gave us a chance to interact with patients with dementia in a context where their dementia isn't the main focus," one student told the researchers. "We get to see what they are capable of — more so than what they are incapable of — which so often is what cognitive tests force a patient to do."
Sharing Art Helps Medical Students Connect With Dementia Patients : Shots - Health News : NPR:
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