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Vernita Paige Trains Medical Students on How to Care for Patients with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

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Vernita Paige, President of the ADAPT Self-Advocacy Executive Council and a long-term self-advocate for the intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD), continues to make her mark on the healthcare field by educating future doctors and healthcare professionals about individuals with disabilities. Recently, she presented in a lecture at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine as part of their Transitions to Clerkship course, providing 2nd year medical students with essential insights into how to best communicate, coordinate, and care for patients with I/DD  to prepare them for their hands-on clinical rotations in their 3rd year.

Vernita Paige, who receives services from ADAPT, along with fellow self-advocates, Jose Rosado and Tiffany Melendez from the Rose F. Kennedy Center, Dr. Vincent Siasoco (ADAPT’s Medical Director and Assistant Professor at Albert Einstein), Joanne Seigel (President of the Bronx DD Council), and other physicians took part in the two-hour class at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

The Transitions to Clerkship course is a series of lectures throughout the year taught by different faculty preparing 2nd year students for their rotations through clerkships in different disciplines in their 3rd year that include Family Medicine/Primary Care, Psychiatry/Neurology, Surgery, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology. Since 2021, Dr. Siasoco and Joanne Seigel has been leading the lecture focusing on the care of individuals with I/DD. This year, Vernita participated in this onsite lecture attended by all 180 second-year medical students at Einstein.

During the lesson, students learned about crucial topics such as understanding the unique needs of I/DD patients, effective communication strategies, and how to provide inclusive and compassionate care. This lecture equipped students with the knowledge and skills necessary to care for patients I/DD patients regardless of the different disciplines the student will be rotating in their 3rd year. Vernita spoke about her own experiences, gave advice, and participated in a Q+A with the other self-advocates as part of a panel discussion.

This I/DD-specific lesson also prepares the Einstein  medical students who rotate at ADAPT’s Article 28 medical clinic in the Bronx in their 3rd year. Einstein first-year medical students also have the opportunity to work with the I/DD community by spending time at our Bronx Adult Day Program through Einstein’s Service-Learning ProgramThis combination of experiences ensures that these future doctors will be able to provide the most informed and comprehensive care to patients with disabilities.

Vernita Paige’s willingness to share personal insights and guidance reflects her dedication to fostering a healthcare environment that is inclusive and supportive of all patients. Vernita stated, “Presenting to future doctors about individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is so important because it helps them to understand us better and prepare them for their future as doctors.”

During the presentation she focused on the importance of effectively communicating with individuals with disabilities just as they would with any other patient. The hope is that the medical students will learn to communicate directly with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and break down information and treatment options for them so they are able to understand their medical care and needs.

In addition to her work with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Vernita played an integral part in ADAPT Community Network’s HealthLink film, which is shown to all medical students who rotate at ADAPT as part of their training. The HealthLink Training Program was started over 12 years ago at ADAPT and has been provided to hundreds of students and healthcare providers since its inception. The HealthLink training program consists of a 60 to 90 minute virtual or onsite lecture accompanied by the 20 minute HealthLink film that was produced in partnership with Positive Exposure, viewable here: see,

Vernita stated, “I hope to continue to be part of these discussions in the future.” Through continued education and awareness, ADAPT hopes to create a healthcare system that prioritizes inclusivity and compassion, ensuring that every patient receives the care and respect they deserve.



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