Medical students at the IAU-COM campus in Vieux Fort, St Lucia develop and practice taking history and conducting physical examinations on patients as part of their rotations in local health clinics. In mid-March a new addition to the clinical curriculum was piloted, bringing a unique patient population into the classroom, the SP. The use of standardized patients in medical education is a staple in U.S. medical schools: SP’s are central to the assessment of medical student clinical skills on the USMLE Step 2CS licensure exam, and also used in residency and other post-graduate training programs. The development of such programs requires long-term investment and development of SP’s with established clinical cases designed to meet program training goals.
Long before the first session began, our first team of patient actors (Lucian and Canadian local residents) and IAU clinical faculty received extensive coaching from an expert trainer. The standardized case involved simulation of symptoms associated with onset of diabetes. Each student was observed, recorded and assessed during their interviews, conducting review of systems, while concurrently a scribe recorded SOAP notes on the board to aid participants in developing a differential diagnosis. This pilot was met with true enthusiasm by students, and was the result of recommendations from IAU-COM
Clerkship leaders, and our Clinical Dean, Dr. Stephen Katz, during the annual review of the clinical training in Baltimore (Fall 2016). Our goal for further development IAU’s 4-year clinical program is to integrate use of SPs into teaching across Y1-2 and for comprehensive clinical assessment of learners at the end of their 5th semester, before they transition to the clerkships. Collaboration and planning across our St. Lucia-Baltimore campuses made this curricular innovation happen. Welcome our SPs as the newest members of IAU-COM!