April 2013|ISSUE 5
Training Simulated  Patients and Tutors for Clinical Communication Teaching

By Dr Tanya Tierney

It can sometimes be a challenge to encourage interactivity in a classroom, but when an audience cheers in response to a facilitator simply introducing themselves and welcoming the group, you know it’s going to be a good session!

In this case the audience were Simulated Patients (SP) and the facilitators were myself and two of my most experienced SPs from London, Mr Simon Purse who is a professional actor, director as well as film maker and Ms Norma Jones who runs an agency of role-players serving medical and corporate clients aside from being an SP herself.

Norma and Simon work as SPs and also as tutors at Imperial and other London Medical schools and have a deep understanding of the complex interactions between SP, tutor and students in this style of teaching.

Workshop at LKCMedicine's Seminar Room

Between 18 March and 22 March 2013, we delivered five workshops, working with 63 of the SPs who have applied to work for us. These are people of all ages from a variety of backgrounds. The majority of them had prior experience as SPs for other medical schools while some were new to SP work but had other acting or corporate role-playing experience. The workshops were a balance of practical activities and delivery of some background about the school and its ethos.

We worked individually with each and every SP and coached them both in their role-play and feedback skills. All of the individual sessions were video recorded and each SP evaluated in terms of role-play and feedback ability in order to identify future training needs.

Meanwhile at the  Simulation and Integrated Medical Training Advancement Centre (SIMTAC), we were also training the Clinical Communication tutors. In order to familiarise themselves with the running of the sessions, the tutors bravely put themselves in the shoes of students interacting with SPs (Simon and Norma) while each in turn ran through the process of facilitating a session. They performed excellently as tutors and were great sports in taking the part of the students.

SP Training at SIMTAC

Having trained the tutors and SPs separately, the next natural step is to bring the members of the team together as the Clinical Communication course relies on the partnership between tutor and SP.