Friday, October 24, 2008

Yeah, Acting's My Fallback

So around here, there is a program called the Standardized Patient Program. This is where actors are used to simulate a patient-physician interaction. The actor plays the part of a patient with a certain chief complaint and list of symptoms. A medical student taking their OSCE exams comes in and gets as much information as he or she thinks they need from the patient in order to make a diagnosis.

The actor is provided with a checklist of items the young medical student should have covered through the exam. These items include questions the medical student should have asked or behavior the medical student should show.

So Thursday, I had my first job with the SPP. I was playing a patient with shortness of breath in the Internal Medicine OSCEs.

Now, I'm not allowed to disclose any specifics about the case or the patient I play in it just in case there are medical students out there looking for cheat sheets. But what I can do is tell you that this is a fun job.

The training for it is fun, and you learn all sorts of things. The acting part is fun because you get to pretend to be someone else (and sometimes hand out clues) to help a medical student pass their exam.

I get a packet of information during training which includes the page the student will get with your name, blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and any other basic stats they should know. Another page gives me the information I need to study about the character I'm playing like medical history, family medical history, review of symptoms, the medications being taken, the family life, amount of children, job of spouse, and age that the character is. Finally, I get a checklist with all of the items the medical student should cover. I review that to make sure I keep an eye out for everything during the exam, and when their exam is over, I go over it with them and give them any information they left out if it's important to the case. I also make sure they know what mistakes they made or what questions they might've left out, and just generally let them know how they did.

All of the students Thursday did wonderful! And I think I did a pretty good job conveying the information without handing it to them on a silver platter. I heard from one of them that a standardized patient at a different station had really let them have it for leaving out a certain question! That surprised me greatly! Our job is not to critisize, it's to help! And I hope that the person who berated the medical student for forgetting to ask about whatever it was comes to see that that's not what we're there for.

1 comment:

Liz said...

Mary, you are SO versatile!! What an awesome daughter I have!