Grad Schools Have Disability Covered

Pacific's graduate health sciences programs offer a variety of training and experience in disability studies to prepare students for roles in clinics, schools, hospitals, and private practice.

The School of Professional Psychology, for instance, which offers advanced degrees in clinical and counseling psychology, has a segment on human diversity, which includes disability. The School of Physical Therapy offers courses in the psychological and medical aspects of illness and disability, as well as extensive offerings on rehabilitation and specialties like orthotics and prosthetics (braces and artificial limbs). Similarly, the School of Occupational Therapy, which involves helping people function with illness and disability, weaves disability studies throughout its curriculum. The School of Physician Assistant Studies holds a seminar for second year students on evaluating patients with disabilities. The program also partnered with the Forest Grove School District to do a medical evaluation of two students with developmental disabilities as part of the pediatrics module in internal medicine.

The College of Optometry operates "specialty rotations" in low vision issues for all fourth-year graduate students. The rotations involve students who work with low vision patients under the supervision of Professors John Lowery and John Smith at the Washington School for the Blind in Vancouver and the mobile Oregon Lions Statewide Low Vision clinic, based at the Oregon School for the Blind.

According to Lowry, both clinics are funded by the state Lions Club so that low-income children receive free exams and low vision devices at cost or free of charge. "The population of children with visual impairment is a large spectrum of children with unique challenges: 75 percent are multiply-handicapped. Optometrists function as a part of a multidisciplinary team providing information and strategies to help the children reach their potential," said Lowry.