December 16, 2008 — Jobs based on being a good actor are usually associated with Hollywood; but not if you are a standardized patient in the college of chiropractic at Northwestern Health Sciences University. Around 25 standardized patients, ranging in age from 20 to 50, have been hired to participate in a comprehensive competency assessment of the T7 chiropractic students. The standardized patients were each trained to act out a specific condition such as back pain or headaches. Chiropractic students were tested on how they evaluated the patient based on their symptoms and signs.
According to Michael Wiles, DC, MEd, dean of the college of chiropractic, currently few chiropractic colleges are using standardized patients; however, they are becoming widely used in medical schools. Fall 2008 was the first trimester standardized patients have been used to test Northwestern students. Right now only T7 chiropractic students test with them, but Dr. Wiles says they will soon be used with T3, T6, and T9 students for the three levels of the comprehensive competency assessment.
Cathy Wigstrom, assessment coordinator, hired the standardized patients and arranged their training by Linda Bowers, DC, professor, college of chiropractic; Tom Bergmann, DC, professor, college of chiropractic; and Julia Bartlett, DC, associate dean, college of chiropractic. They were on campus for T7 chiropractic students’ final examinations the week of Dec. 1–5. According to Dr. Bartlett, the standardized patients will be on-call for the next testing period.
Before Northwestern began employing standardized patients, students practiced with fellow students or faculty. Wiles and Bartlett believe using standardized patients will provide a more realistic simulation of clinical practice for students.
Source: Northwestern Health Sciences University, www.nwhealth.edu/nwtoday/index.html