Written by Courtney Campbell, MSBS Program Coordinator
When was your first patient-facing experience? Was it while you were shadowing or scribing? Or was it when you were first starting your rotations? What if you could have had your first experience with a mentor and a patient actor? In the Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences (MSBS) Program, [the Standardized Patient experience] is one of our favorite events! Not only do we get to remind our students of what they are working towards, but we can also give them a small taste of being a physician, while pairing them with second-year osteopathic medical student (OMS) mentors! With this event, they are also able to reflect and adjust how they approach their patient-facing behaviors.
While we were unable to have a live Standardized Patient (SP) experience last year, this year we hosted the event not only on the Colorado campus, but also on the Utah campus for the first time! Joel Roberts, MD, Assistant Program Director, gathered the MSBS students and OMS mentors (some of whom are alumni of the MSBS program!) and went over what they should expect from the simulation. The mentors offered advice on an array of skills they would encounter, such as proper placement of a stethoscope and how to talk to a patient.
On the day of the big event, the MSBS students and their mentors were paired for three rounds, with each pair being assigned to a specially trained patient-actor. While our students worked with the SPs through each case, the mentors provided notes and real-time feedback on the quality of questions that they were asking, reducing high-level medical jargon, and even hand placement when taking histories. The SPs also provided feedback to our students on how to talk to and build rapport with their future patients. When speaking to our students, they were elated to have an experience like this to help them connect the dots with their curriculum and to gain “real” patient experience.
As for our MSBS alumni, they loved being able to look back and see where they have truly grown as they were in their mentee’s shoes just two years ago. Joseph Noble and Devin Thomas—both second-year RVUCOM students—were excited about mentoring the current MSBS class. “Being a mentor for the MSBS students during their [SP] experience was one of the most unique experiences I have had during medical school,” said SD Noble. “As far as I know, there are not many master’s programs out there that offer this experience; to be a part of that journey with the master’s students was a very fulfilling experience for me as a second-year medical student.” For the most part, SD Noble let his MSBS student partner run the show during their encounters. “It was evident to me [that the MSBS students] would be more than prepared for a future in any health profession of their choosing. Once we got into performing a physical exam, I [walked] them through the nuances of using physical touch to assess a patient and helped them use that information to formulate a differential diagnosis. Overall, it was a fantastic and fun experience for everybody involved!”
SD Thomas agreed: “I had so much fun working with the MSBS class during their SP event! The students that I worked with were motivated as they prepared and worked through their encounters. It was rewarding to reflect on how far I had come personally since my SP experience in the MSBS program, while simultaneously [using] those skills to help the current students. My roots at RVU are in Classroom 125 and it is always rewarding being able to support the current class.”
This event has been wildly successful for us at the MSBS level. Incoming students have even heard about this and were excited to participate too! We look forward to our event next year. If you are already interested in participating, please feel free to reach out!