CONTACT: DAVE PEDERSEN
283 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8032; fax (319) 335-8034
UI College of Medicine to honor simulated patients' contributions
to medical education
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa College of Medicine will honor
community members who serve as volunteer or simulated patients for medical
students at an appreciation luncheon Tuesday, April 28, beginning at 11:45
a.m. in the Eckstein Medical Research Building atrium.
A unique partnership between the college, medical students and the community,
the simulated patient and volunteer patient programs give medical students
practical experience and guidance, says Sandra Schuldt, coordinator of
the programs. "These programs are an invaluable part of the college's
teaching mission. They help medical students develop effective communication
skills that aid in diagnosis and make patients more comfortable in clinical
situations," she says.
The college's curriculum provides student contact with simulated and
volunteer patients beginning in the students' first semester and continuing
through the second year of medical school. The programs help prepare the
students for clinical clerkships that are part of their third and fourth
years of study.
Community participants in the Teaching Associate Simulated Patient (TASP)
program are compensated for their time and assistance. Simulated patients
help students gain confidence and competency in taking medical histories,
diagnosing chief complaints and performing physical examinations. They
also model and teach certain sensitive physical exams, such as the female
pelvic/breast exam and the male genital/rectal exam. Typically, four medical
students work with two simulated patients -- one to guide students through
the exam and one to be the "patient."
TASP participants represent a cross-section of backgrounds and age groups.
This year, 60 simulated patients provided approximately 542 hours of instruction
for first-year medical students and 1,002 hours for second-year students.
The college's Volunteer Patient Program pairs local retirees with medical
students. Implemented last year, the program recruits many of its participants
through the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), a local service that
matches senior citizens with volunteer activities that fit their interests
This year the RSVP has provided 40 volunteers who will donate between
200 and 240 hours of service to second-year medical students. The volunteers
provide opportunities for students to conduct histories and physical exams
and for faculty mentors to demonstrate and critique these skills.
"Working with medical students has proven to be a beneficial experience
for both the students and our volunteers," says Joan Cook, Iowa City
coordinator for the RSVP. "Senior volunteers give students the chance
to work with the kinds of people that they may see in their own practices.
They provide real-life experience in gerontology that's not always available
"The volunteer and simulated patients do a wonderful job of creating
a realistic situation," adds Heidi Stoltenberg, a second-year medical
student. "The patients are told beforehand what we should be asking
and doing. After the session, we get immediate feedback from the patients,
not only on the exam and history-taking, but also on our interpersonal
and non-verbal communication skills. You can't really replicate the kind
of input they provide. It's a good way to become more comfortable and experienced
in our roles as physicians."