New grant to increase health disparities training for WVU medical learners

New grant to increase health disparities training for WVU medical learners

Patient groups who are often underrepresented in healthcare will benefit from increased health disparities training for medical students and residents at the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

A $3 million U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Health Workforce-funded grant focuses on health disparities caused by a growing diversity in patient primary language and disability status.

One-third of West Virginians have a physical or intellectual disability, according to the WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities. The proportion of patients who do not use English as their primary language has also doubled in the state over the past five years.

The grant is a cross-campus collaborative effort that expands existing undergraduate and graduate medical education curricula to address diversity, inclusion, communication, health literacy and patient advocacy.

"Healthcare is a team sport, where everyone can learn from and contribute to providing care," Dr. Clay Marsh, chancellor and executive dean for WVU Health Sciences, said. "The interdisciplinary nature of this grant showcases how our students and patients can benefit when we expand our understanding of our own fields to learn and apply what others can offer."

WVU experts in healthcare and humanities will collaborate on research, training and education to provide an interdisciplinary approach to improving the health of West Virginians. Medical students and residents will then be able to practice what they’ve learned in the classroom as well as in the David and Jo Ann Shaw Center for Simulation Training and Education for Patient Safety and apply their skills within the primary care setting.

Dr. Lesley Cottrell, director of the CED, said West Virginians could benefit from training future and current providers interested in rural and primary care practice.

“This team effort will provide skills and opportunities that help West Virginia physicians extend their effective healthcare to groups who have been underserved historically,” Cottrell said. “Knowing that one’s physician is able to accommodate language and needs related to one’s disability will be welcoming and can lead to better patient satisfaction and a better patient-provider relationship in underserved areas in our state.”

For more information on the WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities, visit For more information on medical education at WVU, visit



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WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities