Better care requires better training. Students in medical and dental programs need substantive training and exposure to people with intellectual disabilities (ID) in the universities and healthcare centers where they are trained. This training is already being done in many medical dental schools across the U.S., but more needs to be done.
Over 2,500 interdisciplinary dental and medical professionals are members of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) and are aware of this need. In June, AADMD members from across the country met in Rochester, NY, students, residents and early-career professionals were able to come together and address the core competencies of medical and dental health care for people with intellectual disabilities as well as developing a career of inclusion.
This professional development opportunity is filling a gap in many medical and dental curricula, and there are other pernicious barriers to quality health care for people with ID. Health providers have shown they will go above and beyond to break down these barriers. The Golisano Foundation and Special Olympics recently recognized 105 of these exceptional providers around the world with the Golisano Health Leadership Awards.
Five of these honorees attended the AADMD conference and served as role models for students and young professionals. They are leaders in ensuring people with ID have access to health care year-round in their communities. 2019 Global honoree Dr. Peter Seidenberg attended the AADMD conference. He is a family and sports medicine physician who has been part of the Special Olympics movement for 18 years. Among his current projects, he is developing Continuing Medical Education lectures to train healthcare providers how to deliver quality care to people with ID and work to reduce health disparities. Other Golisano Health Leadership Award honorees from New Jersey, Arizona, New York attended as well.
At Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, we recognized seven of these honorees as Golisano Global Health Leadership Award honorees at the Global Inclusive Health Forum. These torchbearers are leading the way to inclusive health for people with ID. They volunteer to provide free health screenings at Healthy Athletes events and in their own clinics, they collaborate with their professional associations, they advocate for policies that ensure equity in health care for people with ID, and more.