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News / June 5, 2008

Queen’s University seeks ‘patient actors’

by Guy Hiscott

Queen’s University’s School of Medicine and Dentistry is inviting people from all walks of life to work as ‘patient actors’.

Also known as Standardised Patients (SPs), members of the public are being invited to act as patients in return for payment. The roles are part of Queen’s Patients as Partners (PasP) programme, a novel approach used to help in the area of communications and clinical skills training for its dental and medical students.

Successful applicants undergo a period of training, after which they undertake role-plays of various patient case studies, work with students who are practising a certain skill and assist at exam times in the evaluation of how well students have learned a skill.

Speaking about the scheme, Dr Melissa McCullough, a lecturer in the School of Medicine and Dentistry, and academic lead on the programme, said: ‘As future doctors and dentists, a great deal of trust will be placed in our medical students during their professional careers.

‘Patients as Partners offers students opportunities to practise their skills in history taking and examination with ‘real’ patients to improve their communication skills and successfully relate to people of all ages and backgrounds.

‘SPs come from all walks of life and bring a variety of experience with them. They generally have good communication skills, an interest in education and personal health and are patient with those who are learning new skills.’

Marie Brooks, PasP administrator, said: ‘The value of using simulated patients in developing good training practice has been highlighted and the need for people to participate keeps growing. We really are seeing the value of the scheme and are glad to have received so much support from those who interested in helping.’

Anyone interested in applying to become a Standardised Patient should visit the website where further information and an application form can be accessed. Alternatively, contact Marie Brooks on 028 9097 1435 or email