Communication breakdown severely compromises the delivery of effective health care. This is of great concern when a patient has little or no functional speech. In light of the Tomorrow's Doctors (GMC, 2009) and research common to other literature (Symons et al, 2000), the University of Dundee is investigating ways in which AAC can be introduced into the undergraduate medical degree programme.
Interviews and focus groups were held with adults who use AAC and health professionals to identify key teaching goals and ways in which AAC could be delivered to medical students.
A pilot communication skills workshop was delivered to two groups of 2nd and 3rd undergraduate medical students and a 5th year student cohort. The involvement of 'health trainers' (people who use AAC) was a critical component of the workshop.
Both the students and the 'health trainers' gained from the workshops. Plans are underway to include training in AAC within the University of Dundee undergraduate medical curriculum.