January – March 2016

March 2016

The SP perspective – Barbara Clark Ucko

The piece in Health Affairs by Barbara Clark Ucko (entitled Poked And Prodded Again And Again) chronicled her account as a SP.

Not only did Ucko vividly describe what goes on during a SP encounter and the different roles she took on, she also discussed how she got started. Her motivation to be a SP was to meet new people but she was also driven by the thought of being involved in the education of future doctors. She also admitted that she was fascinated by medical condition too, prompting her towards her new career.

The article stressed the key skills that an experienced SP should have. Not only do SPs need to have the ability to memorise and emote during the roleplay, awareness of good and bad medical practice is also valuable. Most importantly, the ability to immerse oneself in the experience as if one is a real patient is a must. Ucko also highlighted that SPs need to give feedback for the encounters. She also indicated that the SP experience can be intense for both SPs and students.

What is evident in the piece is that being a SP can be very empowering. Ucko wrote:

“I am a “standardized patient,” a part of the students’ medical education. I’m a powerful force for good; it’s almost like being Wonder Woman.”

The full citation of the paper is below:
Ucko, B. C. (2006). Poked and prodded again and again. Health Affairs25(5), 1400-1406.

The full article is available here.

The Simulated Patient (SP) Program in Japan

The piece by Kittaka entitled Simulated patients pitch Japan’s medical students cultural curve balls (in The Japan Times, published on 27 January 2016) shines a spotlight on Japan’s growing SP program. This program was initiated and spearheaded by Professor Ruri Ashida since 2012 in Tokyo. Since then, the program has grown to include several locations including Okayama, Akita and Tokushima prefectures.

The uniqueness of the SP program is that it is being utilised to train medical students in the finer art of dealing with patients who are foreign nationals. The role play is conducted in English. One of the students involved cited that it has made her aware of various cultural nuances.

The program currently involves 30 SPs who are foreign nationals including those from Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Holland and Germany. These SPs receive training. Though they receive remuneration for their involvement, they are more driven by their desire to improve the experience of visiting the doctor in Japan, for other foreign nationals.

Read more about this growing program in the original article here.

To find out more about the SP program, visit their website here.

February 2016

What do learners need to do to prepare for a simulation session?

This short article by McMullen-Fix from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor discussed what is expected from learners as part of their preparation for a simulation activity. She recommended that students should take the time to familiarise themselves with the following prior to a session:

i) environment
ii) learning objectives
iii) equipment

The author also proposed that learners should understand that teamwork is also important within simulation learning environment. She suggested that learner should be prepared to think on their feet and understand that while it is a simulated session, it should not be taken lightly. A simulated session can provide a valuable learning experience.

The full article is available here.

SP Work Opportunity: Bendigo La Trobe University

Bendigo La Trobe University is currently recruiting potential SPs for their learning program in health sciences. This is an ongoing call for SPs and is on casual basis. Applicants do not need acting or direct experience but must be available during weekdays.

For more details, including contact information, see the advertisement here.

Upcoming course – Simulation Train the Trainer

This program is aimed at training simulation facilitator and educator. It comprises of a 4 days sessions per course, and will be conducted at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne. The curriculum runs through the year with the first lot of course running on the 18th February.

For more details and registration information on this program, see here.

January 2016

Conference news – ASPE goes to the Asia Pacific

One of the key conferences in the field of SP methodology and simulation is the Association of Standardized Patient Educators (ASPE) conference. This year, ontop of their annual conference, the ASPE Asia Pacific Conference will also be held in Singapore between November 18th and 20th. This is the first time that ASPE will be holding a conference in this region. This is a collaborative effort with the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the event will also be hosted by NUS.

Read all about it here and keep up to date with the conference here.

Research – A systematic review: Children & Adolescents as simulated patients in health professional education

A review paper by Gamble et al. (2016) sought to investigate what current literature found regarding children and adolescents who work as SPs within health professional education. The purpose of the study is to generate discussion and recommendations for future research in this field.

A systematic review was undertaken by the authors to explore existing literature related to the work of CASPs.  Over 1000 publications were initially identified. However, through the inclusion criteria developed for the research as well as assessment of methodological quality, 15 papers were included in the final full review.

The authors found the following factors to the inclusion of CASPs:
i) recruitment
ii) training
iii) participation and support
iv) ethical issues
v) the impact of CASP involvement on the learner

The perspectives of the parents and CASPs were also identified as additional themes. Overall, the authors concluded that the inclusion of CASPs in simulation based education and assessment is feasible. They believed that working with CASPs may produce positive outcomes for both learners and the CASPs.

This paper was published in Advances in Simulation. Access the full paper here.

SP perspective in the spotlight

The experiences of Paula Hudspeth, a retired teacher who works as a SP is featured in the article ‘Retired teacher helps medical students learn to interview and examine patients’ (written by Karen Worley and published in Columbia Daily Tribune, 2nd Oct 2015). Hudspeth is one of 88 SP employed at the University of Missouri, School of Medicine and takes on a variety of roles.

In the piece, Hudspeth explains how she was trained and how she goes about preparing for her roles. She details what some of these roles entail. She also explains some of the challenges she faces as a SP. For example, the need to think on her feet when students ask her questions that she does not expect during the interaction or even acting out characteristics that are not in her actual nature.

Read the full article here.

New Journal – Advances in Simulation

A new journal, Advances in Simulation has just been launched early this month. This peer-reviewed journal focuses on the advancement on the use of simulation in the context of health and social care. This journal is open-access ensuring that articles are free and easily accessible.

Advances in Simulation is also the official journal of the Society in Europe for Simulation Applied to Medicine (SESAM).

Read more about the rationale and direction of this periodical from the editorial piece penned by Professor Debra Nestel, who is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, as well as the Director of VSPN.