Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 10:54 PM
Short Summary: Taking the examinations needed to become a licensed physician can be daunting, and preparation is key.
Taking the examinations needed to become a licensed physician can be daunting, and preparation is key. You can learn all the Clinical Skills theory needed to pass the USMLE Step 2 CS, but an important part of the exam is knowing how to deal with people in practice. And that's where using Standardized Patients comes in to play.
Standardized Patients (SPs) are professionals who are experienced in portraying a number of medical and psychological disorders, so that medical students and graduates can diagnose them. Typically, people who work as SPs are from a medical, education or arts background and will have qualifications in those areas. They will realistically be able to simulate a wide range of problems, and be able to talk about them in depth. This gives the trainee a chance to take their history and examine them.
Because of their experience in the field, Standardized Patients will be able to give feedback on their examination and educate trainees in best practice. This covers areas such as history-taking, physical examination and communication skills. By using people with a detailed knowledge of clinical practice, trainees are exposed to realistic scenarios which give them the chance to improve how they handle patient interaction.
In order to practice with SPs, you’ll need to attend Clinical Skills-focused workshops, where you'll learn all you need to know for the exam, as well as being able to practice. One of the foremost trainers in this area is Dr. Mark Swartz, of the Clinical Competence Center of New York, who runs step 2 cs review workshops, as well as lecturing on the subject of using SPs in preparation for the Step 2 CS exam. He has a wealth of international experience, with student testimonials from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. He has also written textbooks and works with governments on medical licensing issues. He has been training SPs since 1991 and currently works with around 250 of them.
Every workshop varies, but generally you can expect an overview of the exam and what's needed to pass it, videos of SP encounters, coaching on communication skills and practice with history taking. Once these basics are covered, you'll move on to physical examinations and detailed case studies of specific SPs, before finally putting it all into practice and going through several live simulations of appointments, using SPs. You'll need to record their notes using the USMLE Step 2 CS criteria and discuss with the group. In addition, you'll receive feedback from Dr. Swartz, and Anna Lank, Managing Director of C3NY, as well as from the SP. Workshops take place over three days and should leave feeling confident about passing the Step 2 CS exam.
Practice with SPs will definitely improve your chances of success in the exam. Former students have reported feeling well-prepared and confident after attending workshops, and they have gone on to great success. And so can you!
Kate Milner is a blogger, freelance writer, and mother of two. She has also worked with Clinical Skills trainers in a medically-themed conference venue.