Our First ASPE Conference

By Katherine Adams and Shelby Marx

Most people who attend the annual ASPE conference have background experience in the standardized patient (SP) world, so it may have seemed odd to have two pre-med undergraduates attending this year. We are Katherine Adams and Shelby Marx, summer interns at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine’s Clinical Skills and Patient Simulation Center. The summer internship is designed to expose us educational research, patient safety, and clinical skills assessment for medical students.

Once accepted to this internship, we discovered that we would be responsible for helping to prepare for, administer and proctor the Clinical Performance Examination (CPX). The large scale, high stakes CPX includes fourteen encounters with SPs, so it was necessary for us to get a crash course on how to recruit, train, and utilize standardized patients. We had the privilege of starting the conference at the Immersion Course, which was essentially a mini medical school; we learned how to take a medical history and how to give a physical exam. With both of us hoping to attend medical school, we were excited to gain this background on doctor-patient interactions. We also learned techniques that standardized patients could use to simulate various physical findings, such as bruits, collapsed lungs, and high blood pressure.

The faculty director of the Clinical Skills Center at UNC, Donald Woodyard, allowed us to attend the workshops that sounded most interesting and beneficial to us, both for the summer work and for our future career goals. We made certain to attend many workshops during the conference to attain exposure to a variety of concepts. We made presentations about the workshops that were the most stimulating to us and presented them to faculty in hopes of integrating new ideas into UNC’s School of Medicine Clinical Skills Center. We learned that there are many ways that simulations can be utilized: enhancing communication among different professions in the medical field, decreasing safety risks, dealing with insensitive superiors, preparing students for traumatic situations, and so much more. Not only did we learn about various simulations, but we also got to meet people representing medical schools from all over the nation and world. It was a great way to network and learn what different medical schools had to offer.

After ASPE, we felt that we had a good idea about what went into training medical students through standardized patients and simulation. This experience at ASPE helped guide us through the summer. We went through all of the steps for writing the case, recruiting and training Standardized Patients, and coming up with checklists to grade the students on. Though this was a slightly overwhelming task, we felt capable of conquering it after our ASPE experience. We were honored have the opportunity to be a part of the ASPE conference and to bring ideas from medical schools around the country to UNC.

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