WHEN WILL I SEE STANDARDIZED PATIENTS?
The Standardized Patient Program is responsible for preparing students for the challenges they will face with patients in a safe educational environment. Not only will the encounters provide you with helpful information regarding your communication skills, they will also provide you with a contextual learning experience in which to further develop them. Many of these encounters will take place during an Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE). OSCEs are a method of assessing a multitude of clinical skills. Students are observed during a SP encounter and examined by an individual (e.g., SP, RN or faculty) previously trained to use a predefined checklist to evaluate clinical competence.
In 2005, the USMLE implemented the Step 2 Clinical Skills Examination, emphasizing the importance of patient centered care in healthcare education. In anticipation of the Step 2CS, MCW implemented the Benchmark Objective Structured Clinical Exam (B-OSCE) in 1999. The B-OSCE is a 6 station exam to assist medical students in their preparation for this new requirement. Recognizing the value of additional exposure to Standardized Patients, many courses and clerkships began to develop cases specific to their program's learning objectives. Today, MCW's Standardized Patient Program coordinates encounters for medical students throughout the first, second, and third years. Detailed information for each year is below.
During the first year of medical school, students encounter SPs in the Medical Interviewing Course. Each week, students will see a different patient and learn about interviewing techniques. Weekly educational sessions, in which two randomly selected students take turns interviewing a Standardized Patient, are followed by a guided discussion with the facilitator and fellow students. At the end of the course, an OSCE serves as the final examination. The OSCE involves the 6 patients seen during the course, with students being evaluated on their interviewing skills by the patient.
During the second year of medical school, students experience more exposure to patients, honing the interviewing skills developed in the first year. They learn physical exam maneuvers and how to incorporate them appropriately with patients. Physicians and fourth year medical students guide them through numerous encounters with both real and standardized patients throughout the year. By the end of the second year, students will have gained knowledge and experience with performing a complete history and physical.
The third year offers students a chance to become well versed in the patient encounter as well as the chance to prepare for the USLME Step 2 CS. Students will have the opportunity to practice focusing in on a particular complaint and performing the appropriate interview and physical exam maneuvers during a number of OSCEs. These examinations will contribute to a portion of the overall grade in the following Clerkships: Medicine, Pediatrics, Surgery, Family Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynecology. In addition, these OSCEs will also prepare students for taking the B-OSCE
(Benchmark Objective Structured Clinical Exam). Passing the B-OSCE is a graduation requirement for all MCW medical students.