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The Educational Experience

A brief description of the way simulated patient (SP)-based educational experiences are a part of students’ training follows:

Semesters 1 – 3:  The Pre-Clinical Curriculum:

  • Multiple facilitator-led small group sessions allow students to work through a patient scenario(s) to practice targeted communication skills, such as establishing rapport, asking open-ended questions, and expressing empathy 
    • Students learn to offer feedback, and receive it from their peers, their facilitator, and the SP
    • Small Group sessions in which students systems-based physical exam skills in a hands-on setting  
  • Physical Exam Teaching Associates (PETAs), who are an elite group of specially- and rigorously trained SPs, participate in these sessions.  PETAs offer guidance and patient-centered topics, such as effective draping, asking for permission, etc.
  • Individual One-on-One interactions with an SP during which students practice the targeted skills for the session, receive individualized patient-centered feedback
  • End-of-semester Objective Structure Clinical Examinations (OSCEs)
    • Students demonstrate multiple clinical and communications skills through a variety of tasks and stations. 
    • Students are scored in these stations, and these scores are used as a part of the course grades.


Semesters 4-5: The Core Clerkships:

Education Days
  • Facilitator-led small group sessions 
  • Students work through more advanced scenarios and practice more complex communication skills 
  • Feedback is provided by peers, clinical and communication facilitators, and the SPs.
    • Suicide Risk Assessment
    • Sexual History
    • Shared Decision Making 
Multi-station OSCEs
  • Clerkship OSCEs occur toward the end of blocked core clerkships.
    • Students work in realistic clinical settings in a realistic time-frame.
    • Students use clinical reasoning and communication skills to work through clerkship-specific clinical scenarios and relevant tasks.
      • interpreting laboratory data
      • writing patient notes
  • Clerkship OSCEs are required by the clerkships.
    • Scores are used in the calculation of clerkship grades.
    • Missed OSCEs are made up in later blocks of the clerkship.
  • Clerkship OSCEs are collegiate requirements.
    • Scores are used in part to determine students' readiness for the USMLE Step 2CS examination.
    • Scores are used in part to determine students' readiness for the Phase 3 curriculum.