How to simply explain a complicated medical procedure? How to tell a patient that further treatment will not bring expected results? How to deal with his or her negative emotions and sometimes even aggression? Medicine students from the Jagiellonian University Medical College will have to find answers to all these questions during classes with simulated patients. In that way, the future physicians will improve the communication skills which are crucial in their work.
“The recruitment and training of simulated patients is a major organisational undertaking, but it is definitely worth the effort as the results have already been visible during classes, which proved to be more effective and motivating for the students. At the moment, this is the largest and most advanced of such projects in Poland”, says Dr Stanisław Górski, who coordinates the project at the JU MC Department of Medical Didactics.
Simulated patients are people who can realistically reconstruct the history of an illness, imitating the behaviour of a real patient, whose emotions the students will have to cope with in the future.
“The solution has already been tested for some time, and its implementation was preceded by giving assistants a thorough training in the field of communication teaching, medical simulation and work with actors. We have adopted the best solutions tested at foreign centres of medical education, for instance at the Universities of Cambridge and Maastricht, also drawing from some interesting Polish initiatives”, explains Dr Michał Nowakowski, the head of the JU MC Department of Medical Didactics.
Simulated patients will make the students accustomed to situations that are as similar as possible to what they can encounter during their medical practice, when clinical problems will be accompanied by difficulties in communication with patients, for instance when it is necessary to convey bad news or discuss intimate subjects, when a doctor is faced with negative emotions or lack of permission for a suggested form of treatment. The most challenging simulations will feature actors experienced in interpersonal training for business leaders, in which simulating difficult situations has long been considered a very effective training method.
Over 700 hours of classes with simulated patients is planned to take place in summer semester 2017. The initiative has been possible thanks to the project “Didactics, Innovation. Development. Improving Quality of Teaching by Developing Innovative Education”, co-funded by the EU within the framework of the Operational Programme Knowledge Education Development.