Challenges and Advantages in the Implementation of Standardized Patient Experiences in a DPT Curriculum
Purpose: The purpose of this project were to describe the formative and summative standardized patient (SP) experiences developed throughout a Doctor of Physical Therapy curriculum and summarize the challenges and advantages encountered during the implementation of these experiences. Methods/Description: Faculty was trained in the technique of SP. Five SP experiences were developed increasing in difficulty throughout the curriculum. These experiences included the elaboration of blueprints, patient scripts, rubrics, student orientation manual, SP training, documentation rubrics, student questionnaires, and opening scenarios. Personnel working as SPs assessed rapport, interviewing skills, organization and transition, patient education and understanding, and closure of the encounter; while clinical instructors and faculty assessed clinical competence, clinical behavior, and documentation. Assessment of student satisfaction was performed through written surveys. Results/Outcomes: Faculty came to a consensus of the clinical content to be assessed during the SP experiences, as follows: basic skills, cardiopulmonary, neurological, and musculoskeletal. The SP experiences (formative and summative) were distributed throughout the curriculum. The ECHOWS tool has been valuable for the development of interviewing skills in students. The challenges encountered were the assignment of funds, recruitment of patients and voluntary clinical instructors, training of standardized patients, elaboration of a variety of cases and rubrics, time allotment for faculty load, and coordination of use of facilities. Advantages of implementing SP were obtaining information from the assessments of personnel serving as SPs and clinical instructors on student readiness for clinical practice and student’s performance on professional behavior and safety criteria that could be reinforced in clinical courses; as well as identifying areas to be strengthen in the curriculum. Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: These SP experiences identified strengths of students, as well as the clinical competencies to be improved through the curriculum and clinical education experiences. Formative experiences demonstrated to help students to be familiarized with the SP experiences; and in acknowledging areas to be strengthened in professional behavior and safety; while summative experiences identified specific clinical skills to be improved previous to clinical practice. SP can be a costly strategy to evaluate the clinical skills of students. Students found these experiences as challenging as or more challenging than a course practical exam.