UAMS Northwest Campus Hosts March 2 Open House to Recruit Standardized Patients for Clinical Skills Center

By Jon Parham

The open house for the Pat and Willard Walker Student Clinical Education Center will be 2-5 p.m., at the campus, 1125 N. College Ave. Students will demonstrate working with standardized patients, people who simulate the signs and symptoms of an actual patient in a clinical setting.

Students from UAMS medical, nursing, pharmacy and physical therapy programs all use the center to practice clinical skills in a safe environment and receive feedback about their encounters. The center is seeking more people to work part time as standardized patients.

Standardized patients are paid $15 per hour. More information, including an online application form, can be found at Forms also will be available at the open house.

“Our standardized patients play a critical role in preparing our students, including interprofessional experiences that teach them skills for working as part of a multi-disciplinary health care team,” said Peter O. Kohler, M.D., vice chancellor for the Northwest Arkansas Campus. “We welcome members of the community, those with a background in education, retirees with some extra time or anyone who wants to help us educate future health care professionals.”

People with many different backgrounds can be employed as standardized patients, including school teachers, retired college professors, actors, medical technicians, retired businessmen, college students, accountants and homemakers. Some are hired specifically for their particular medical histories or real physical findings.

The cases they portray are based on actual patient encounters experienced by physicians. Standardized patients are trained to provide feedback to the learners, especially in the area of interpersonal communication.

Standardized patients will receive complete training and coaching prior to working with students. They will receive the patient scenario to help standardize the simulation for every student who sees them. This includes specific verbal and non-verbal behaviors appropriate for the role.

“We want our standardized patients to feel comfortable with the scenario they are performing because we want their performances to be as consistent and realistic as possible,” said Mary Cantrell, executive director for the UAMS Centers for Simulation Education.

Training and rehearsal may also involve reading and studying case information, viewing video recordings of previous encounters, observing others performing the role in rehearsal and/or an exam, informal role-playing with members of the Clinical Skills Center team, and formal role-playing with faculty members.

The Walker Student Clinical Education Center opened in 2013 with six outpatient exam rooms fully equipped with audio and video capabilities. Multiple cameras capture different views of simulation exercises.

A central observation room is dedicated for standardized patient training along with monitors and equipment to view each room’s encounter. There also is a clinical skills room with equipment that allows students to practice listening to heart sounds, suturing techniques, IV insertion and other simulated tasks.