A diverse society needs a diverse healthcare workforce. And diversity in health professions education is increasingly possible due to a wider variety of entry routes to undergraduate programmes. This includes students from graduate entry and under-represented social and economic backgrounds, and students with disabilities. However, by itself, access to university does not achieve inclusion. Teaching and learning needs to adapt to support diverse undergraduate groups in attaining acceptable standards of proficiency for their chosen professions, enabling them to bring valuable life experiences and perspectives to their careers.
Universal design for learning (UDL) is a framework grounded in cognitive neuroscience and the learning sciences. In action, UDL moves away from classifying learners into categories of “typical” or “needing additional supports”, but instead offers flexibility in teaching and learning for the benefit of all. While UDL can feasibly be implemented in university-based classroom settings, the translation to the busy and variable environment of practice placements can be challenging and demands creativity. Taking the “plus-one” approach and reflecting what we’ve learned as a health sciences university, we share six ideas for practice educators to implement the principles of UDL.