UnStandardized Patients
Standardized patients, or SP for short, is actually a group of people that are trained  for certain scenario in an exam setting or teaching-learning activities for the students. The main purpose is to develop communication skills in the students. So the students are given a scenario and tasks that they should achieve and they need to interact with the SPs with proper communication skills such as good eye contact, apply listening skills, empathy (if relevant), not judgmental, not rude, not preachy etc etc etc...

For this purpose, the faculty has an SP unit which is responsible for recruiting SPs, calling SPs for training sessions and arranged for SPs' transport, meals and also payment. Yeah... this is a paid job. And the SPs will be paid by the hour (for both training and actual sessions). Meals provided lagi. Sounds good eh..?happy

In a setting, be it an exam or classroom, we usually organize training sessions before the actual sessions to train the SPs so that they will be more or less standardized so that when two different SPs are assigned to two different groups of students, both groups will face the same scenario with similar difficulty index and similar emotions expressed by the SPs. Well, that's our hope but sometimes it's very difficult to meng'standard'kan SP ni. At times, the SPs are uncooperative that the students become helpless, speechless, clueless on how to proceed. Sampai boleh menangis students kadang-kadang.crying Students naik angin pun ada jugak..angry At times, the SPs may be too loose on the tongue sampai dia pulak cakap banyak. And the students may not have the chance to show their own communication skills.. But of course, there are also good SPs who deliver their jobs effectively.

A couple of SPs during a training session 
(gambar sekadar hiasan, tidak kena mengena dengan blog entry ni)
Even though we have a large pool of SPs to choose from, we did face situations where the SPs are not like what we requested. For example, during a recent training session. The scenario revolves around two 1st year students. So, the SPs need to act as 1st year student. However, some of the SPs that came for the training session are fit to be the students' father or grandfather maybe.. We are quite open and receptive to the concept of adult students, however, for the sake of the students who are going to interact with the SPs, somebody of their age is much more preferred. Thank God we have plan B lined out... Kalau tak, I can't imagine how the students will interact. Nak panggil pak cik ke apa ni...d'oh

There was a similar occurence some time ago. The breaking bad news scenario which I wrote about in my previous post. The SPs were supposed to be a guy who has a 40-year-old wife. However, some of the SPs involved that day were quite young, young enough to be the son, not the husband. Well, I agree that sometimes old women are more appealing to young men but then again that's out of the norm. So, it does seemed hilarious and ridiculous.

The SPs unit may has a reason for this age-unfit-problem. But since we send in a form specifying our standard and criteria, they should try to adhere to that, shouldn't they? And if they could not possibly fulfill the criteria, shouldn't they at least let us know beforehand and explain their problems? Lack of communication maybe? Aiyoo... nampak gayanya the trainers for communication skills need to be trained as well...thinking
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4 Responses
  1. fei4ren2 Says:

    u knw prof, i have been waiting for ppl to recruit me as the SP since i have those positive signs in PE, but no one contact me pun. (actually wanted to earn extra money, LOL). hahaha...

  2. leenaleeca Says:

    We love to have you all as SP but for confidential sake, we don't recruit medical students as SP. Takut nanti soalan bocor..:)

  3. lili Says:

    wah... kagum

  4. leenaleeca Says:

    Thanks Lili. Part and parcel of the job. Tapi kagum dgn trainers ke dgn SPnya? ;)