CMU’s Standardized Patient Program prepares students for success

Standing next to a bed in the simulation room, a Central Michigan University (CMU) student in the College of Medicine asks a patient some questions about the reason why they needed to see a doctor that day.

The student asks when they injured themselves, how it happened, and where it hurts. After gathering that information, the student tries to figure out what is wrong and how to best treat their injury or how to best resolve the patient’s issue.

The Standardized Patient Program hires actors to play the role of a patient with a list of information including a chief complaint, physical, emotional, or mental, according to Robert Bouwman. The student who is paired with the patient will then figure out the best way to help the patient, giving them practice for real-world experience with living people.

The paired standardized patient, with a given checklist, will then provide the student with feedback on how they handled the bedside manner.

Having been an SP for over the past four years, Bouwman, is now the new Standardized Patient Trainer Coordinator at CMU’s College of Medicine as of Jan. 17, 2022.

Bouwman says that this program prepares students in the college to be successful in their careers later down the road.

“Not everyone is comfortable in one-on-one situations and this really helps them just get used to talking to a person, having them answer questions, trying to get them to do things that they want them to do,” Bouwman says. “What I think is the most important is it really provides an opportunity for the learners to find out what it's like to be their patient. If they're going to make a mistake, if they're going to say something wrong, it’s much better to do it now in this safe environment.”

Crystal and Ed Dwyer have been a part of CMU’s program for the past five and a half years. They are in contact primarily with first and second-year students in the College of Medicine.

Crystal Dwyer says they have both received comments from students about how much they appreciate their help and feedback after the simulation.

Being able to watch first-year students turn into second-year students is an opportunity they have had while being a part of the program.

“I'm really impressed with how well they take the criticism and how they apply it to their future sessions,” Ed Dwyer says. “To see that growth is amazing.”
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Read more articles by Addy Wachter.

Addy Wachter is a Grand Haven resident who is currently a student at Central Michigan University. She plans to graduate during the summer of 2023 with a major in photojournalism and a minor in cultural and global studies. Along with working with Epicenter, she is a photographer and writer at Central Michigan Life newspaper who enjoys traveling and exploring new places in her spare time, always taking her camera with her wherever she goes.