Actual and Standardized Patient Evaluations of Medical Students' Skills. Family medicine Sattler, A. L., Merrell, S. B., Lin, S. Y., Schillinger, E. 2017; 49 (7): 548–52

Abstract

Physicians must communicate effectively with patients. Actual patients (APs) rarely evaluate medical students' clinical skills; instead, standardized patients (SPs) provide proxy ratings. It is unclear how well SP ratings mirror AP experiences. The aim of this study was to compare AP and SP assessments of medical students' communication skills and professionalism. We hypothesized that their perspectives would be similar, but distinct, and offer insight about how to more reliably include the patient's voice in medical education.Using a mixed methods design, data were gathered from both APs and SPs using a modified SEGUE (Set the stage, Elicit information, Give information, Understand the patient's perspective, End the encounter) framework. Authors analyzed Likert-scale surveys using Spearman's rho (?) correlations, and qualitatively analyzed open-ended comments about students' interpersonal skills and professionalism.For APs, the domains of "trusted the student," "discussed treatment," and "reviewed next steps" were positively correlated with whether they would recommend the student to others (?.89, ?.89, ?.88, respectively, all P<.001). For SPs, feeling like they "trusted the student," "student appeared professionally competent," and "made personal connection" were most highly correlated with recommending the student to others (?.86, ?.86, ?.76, respectively, all P<.001).Feedback from APs provides unique perspectives, complementing those of SPs, and prompts insights into incorporating patients' voices and values into training. Students may benefit from learning experiences focused on sharing and clarifying information. Providing opportunities for deliberate practice and feedback during both AP and SP encounters may enhance mastery of these skills.

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