Standardized Patient Assessment Center

School of Medicine students meet with a standardized patient

The Standardized Patient and Assessment Center (S-PAC) is a 16-room facility in the medical school that simulates outpatient clinical offices and provides a realistic environment for medical students to learn clinical skills. Standardized patients, often actors, are trained to portray patients with ailments for the purpose of teaching and learning.

Medical students typically learn in the S-PAC every other week during their first two years as part of the Foundations in Clinical Care course. Often a small group of students are taught history and/or physical examination skills by a faculty member using a standardized patient as an examination model. Students also perform history and physical examinations on standardized patients about once a month. This provides a safe and nurturing environment to develop critical skills in history taking, physical examination and patient communication.

Individual student sessions with patients are confidentially recorded, enabling students to review their performance with faculty. Students also use computers with simulated electronic health records to learn the skills of documenting their findings and ordering tests.

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