Tufts University Medical School

Operation House Call (OHC) is a course formed in partnership with The Arc of Massachusetts to teach about living with a diagnosis of intellectual and/or developmental disability (IDD). In 2012-2013 Tufts Medical School decided to pilot this course and it is currently offered to a portion of the Tufts class of third year medical students.

The OHC premise is that families can effectively teach future doctors important information about living with a developmental disability, providing a better understanding of the day to day joys and concerns, and expertise, of families who are raising a child with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD). Its purpose is to enhance a future doctor’s ability to partner with families and caregivers and individuals with IDD when providing health care.

Operation House Call specifically addresses components of the pediatric clerkship learning objective on child growth and development, as students interact with children who have IDD diagnoses and their families. Further course objectives prepare a young doctor to be an active learner as a future practitioner.

Most individuals with an IDD diagnosis have received this diagnosis prenatally or during infancy or early childhood. Therefore the pediatric training rotation is an ideal time to teach new doctors how to learn from families. Components of the OHC course offerings allow a pediatrician to further understand prenatal counseling and support issues relevant to families in this community.

The course requirements includes class time with the OHC Parent Instructor, meeting a young co-teacher with IDD, review of the OHC Website materials, a two hour home visit to a volunteer family, and student comments in their OHC class forum about their home visit experience. Course readings, video, and resources are provided on the OHC Website. These resources are accessible to the students throughout the academic year. Peer learning is encouraged in class and in the online forum as participants learn from various family experiences.

Key to this program’s success is the support of OHC volunteer families who agree to host a pair of medical students in their home. Families act as educators, providing the students with personal experiences outside of a clinical setting. Warmth, honesty, and the sharing of personal experience make these families excellent teachers of future doctors.

Tufts Operation House Call Program Contact:

Maura Sullivan  OHC Program Director  sullivan@arcmass.org

Mandee Spittle, OHC Parent Instructor, spittle@arcmass.org

Kim Walsh, OHC Family Coordinator, walsh@arcmass.org