Center for the Advancement of Underserved Children

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Parent Participants

Parents are an under-recognized resource in educating professionals. Low-income families experiencing barriers to healthcare offer a unique opportunity to teach residents about their real-life experiences. Since the inception of the Dyson Initiative (2000), parents have been incorporated into the community pediatrics rotation.

Parents are identified by partnering community-based organizations and are invited to participate in each 4-week community pediatrics rotation. These parents share their knowledge and insight of life experiences and are encouraged to attend core curriculum sessions. Prior to an orientation, parents fill out a Consumer Experience Survey to assess their level of participation in various social service agencies and partnering community-based organizations. Prior to attending the sessions, parents participate in a five-hour training including their roles and responsibilities and watch a 45-minute video on the life of a resident. Parents interact with residents on a daily basis as they work in teams to improve child health outcomes.

Definition: Parents are representatives of diverse communities that seek and benefit from the services offered by the community

Parent roles and responsibilities:

  1. Combine talents with other members of the team
  2. Share valuable life experiences about your life and the lives of your family that contribute to the expansion of residents' knowledge regarding living in the community
  3. In sharing experiences and story telling consumers must:
    • Relate to the topic being discussed
    • Share only the experiences that feel "right" and are comfortable for them
    • Speak sincerely and honestly about the situations that affect them and their concerns
  4. Be willing to learn and teach others:
    • Ask questions when they have doubts related to a topic
    • Explore and share the things in common with other members
  5. Listen with openness. Give attention to what others have to say.
  6. Be well prepared and willing to participate actively in discussions:
    • Find out about the topic prior to the session to be able to actively engage yourself
    • Keep account of your experiences brief
  7. Be responsible and reliable:
    • Be present and on time when you commit to a session or meeting


Since 2000, we have trained over 55 parents to assist in teaching residents since the initiation of this Training Initiative. On average, parents attended 2.3 sessions per month and have contact with the program for one year. Interviews with parents reveal that they perceive themselves as assisting residents in understanding real life and being a vital community resource. In addition, they also gained knowledge about how physicians think and respond. Written feedback from pediatric residents completing block rotation reported that parents offer a point of view that would normally go unheard.

Parents and pediatric residents find it mutually beneficial to incorporate parents into teaching residents. They provide a wealth of knowledge about community resources and real life experiences, adding depth to the curriculum topics. They also gain knowledge about the profession and how to interact. Parents who complete the orientation have a vested interest in the residents education. They are valuable resources to the education of medical professionals.

Generous financial support for parent participants has been awarded from the Milwaukee Area Health Education Center since 2006 and the Bob and Linda Davis Family Fund of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

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Page Updated 08/12/2014