Friday, 16 October 2015

Act sick to help train a doctor

Volunteer sim patients, Andrew Hood and Alison Sinnott help train future doctors
The School of Rural Health Churchill needs volunteers to play an important role in training future doctors. The site needs up to 50 people, especially men aged 30 to 40, to take on a simulated patient role for part of the students’ end-of-year clinical skills exams in November.

"Sim patients" are trained to portray conditions such as a heart attack, high blood pressure, chest pains or even a broken arm. A clinician then observes how the student records the patient history and treats the “patient”.

Sim patient coordinator, Susan Smith said she contacts volunteers in the demographic needed by the exam scenarios who are then trained in their “illness”.  Some volunteers, like Andrew Hood, have been doing it for years because they enjoy the experience so much.

Andrew, who initially studied computing with Monash University and has now returned to study for a science degree, is from Yallourn North and has volunteered since 2007. A friend from Latrobe Regional Hospital who was involved with Andrew in community theatre suggested he would be ideal.

“I enjoy acting, it’s a great challenge,” he said. “It is also great to help with these students’ education in becoming good doctors.”

He not only volunteers for clinical skills examinations but also on a regular basis throughout the year as part of the students’ training. Andrew says it’s not like learning a script. It is more a question and answer scenario. “You are given initial training to explain the procedure,” he said. “You get used to it fairly quickly and it all becomes familiar. I like it when I am given a more complicated role to give them a challenge,” he said.

Sometimes the volunteers are required to change into hospital gowns and lie on a hospital bed in the simulated ward or may have to present in shorts and a t-shirt to make the scenario more realistic.
Ms Smith said the more volunteers recruited the better. “We need such a broad demographic range and we don’t always need everyone,” she said. “But all volunteers get paid for their time and training.”

If you are interested in being a sim patient volunteer, contact Ms Smith at the School of Rural Health Churchill by phone 5122 7445 or email: susan.smith@monash.edu

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