The biggest reward I have had as a simulated patient is experiencing the current emphasis on young health professionals’ communication skills. The following illustrates my recent experience with a young Monash physiotherapy student who was attempting an explanation in the language and experience of the patient I was playing.
Lou is a 59 year old Italian man who was attending preadmission before an operation for bowel cancer. Lou has no understanding of what a physiotherapist does. Having established (much to the student’s frustration) that a physiotherapist is not “a doc”, “doesn’t give the meds”, and is not a “man nurse”, Lou wants to know how a physiotherapist works with other medical professionals.
The student who knows that Lou is a pastry chef explained it this way: “You know Lou when you make a cake you combine sugar, flour, milk and eggs. All the separate ingredients combine together to make the whole cake. Well that’s what we do. Think of the physiotherapist as the sugar and the doctors, nurses and the rest of the hospital staff as the other ingredients which make the cake whole. Like the ingredients of the cake we work together as a team to make you whole.”
Lou, always ready to have the last word replied: “Ah so you are the sugar……butta you know you donta always putta sugar in a cake. “To which the student quickly replied: “But then Lou it would taste of cardboard.”
Peter Macris (email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org)