I plan to work as a Physician Assistant with a focus on medical care for children and adults who have special cognitive, mental, and developmental needs. I would like to educate parents, care takers, and health professionals in the US and abroad. There is a significant lack of education with regard to current and proper medical care for individuals who have special cognitive challenges and associated health care needs.
An example of the importance of continued education can be seen in the thousands of individuals who have a diagnosis of Down syndrome. A common health issue which can occur at any age within this population is hypothyroidism. If hypothyroidism is not discovered, treated, and monitored, its effects can complicate physical and cognitive challenges and have a negative impact on the patient’s potential, mental health, and quality of life. Regular testing for this and other health risks are defined by the “Down syndrome medical checklist”. There are currently physicians treating patients who have Down syndrome who are unaware of the special tests and vigilance needed to look for disorders, like hypothyroid, and instead attribute the patient’s symptoms as “oh that is just due to the Down syndrome.”
It is unjust for patients who have special needs, genetic anomalies, or cognitive delays to not have their medical needs met due to a lack of awareness.
I passionately want to change this as inadequate medical care should never get in the way of any person from fully enjoying their gift of life.