So, I got to hang out in the weird interface of being a future practitioner and being a patient recently. I have been getting some tests done because of a weird skin thing I have. Whenever I think I have it figured out, I don’t. If it is all one condition, it has been going on since I was 16, so, it is obviously not an acutely dangerous condition. I have gone though, in my head, diagnoses from being dirty -> fungal infection -> systemic candida -> inverse psoriasis -> something…else? Like maybe erythema annulare centrifugum? Erythema gyratum repens? Granulomatous dermatitis? Mycosis fungoides?
Ack. Well, I just got a biopsy done, which was inconclusive, and I also had to go and get my (*ahem*) supposed-to-be-annual gynecological exam, and get various vaccines and tests to prepare for rotations. On my way in the get the check under the hood, I passed a group of what I assume were either physical therapy or occupation therapy students traversing the perimeter of the school, including the parking lot near the handicapped spaces. Many of them were using assisted mobility devices (not sure if that is the correct term) such as different types of crutches, wheelchairs and walkers. I do not think any of these students needed these devices to ambulate themselves, but were using them to see what it was like for their future patients. And, at the same time, testing out the accessibility of our building, which not only houses a huge health professions graduate school, but employs a large number of support faculty and staff. We also share the site with our clinic, which has various medical specialties, a dental clinic, an optometry clinic, and physical and occupational therapy offices.
I was running late, but I had to stop and ask their professor how they were finding the accessibility. She seemed like a great professor (from my 2 minute interaction while we were both negotiating a parking garage with lots of traffic and no sidewalk) and said it seemed to be poor in many areas, including the one we were in. The front parking and front of the building were better, but the majority of the students and patients will be in the garage.
I was so happy to see this particular group doing an excursion like this. I have seen members of these programs on our elevators and on different floors of the building with assistive devices. Sometimes they have real live people with them who have mobility barriers, but not on this particular trip. I heard students complaining about how difficult it was to use a walker for a long distance, and was happy to see them getting real empathetic experience, even if they were not getting direct input from someone who has to deal with this every day. They will get a lot of that in their careers, and I hope this helps them think about mobility and accessibility more holistically.
I also hope the professor and/ or students submit an accessibility report to the powers that be at the university. All facilities should strive to be accessible, but I have an ever higher standard for a location that serves and trains people to serve people who have different accessibility and mobility needs.