Standardized Patients and Mechanical Simulators in Teaching and Assessment at Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine

John R. Gimpel, DO, MEd; Angela C. Weidner, BS; John R. Boulet, PhD; Crystal Wilson, MEd; and Anthony M. Errichetti, PhD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: March 16, 2006

Accepted: September 19, 2006

Published: December 1, 2007

J Osteopath Med; 107(12): 557-561

Context: A 2001 survey of 19 colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs) revealed that standardized patient programs (SPPs) are increasingly used in osteopathic medical education. However, no new data have been published since.

Objectives: To evaluate current SPP and mechanical simulator use at COMs compared with previous survey results.

Methods: In 2005, an electronic survey regarding the use of SPPs (eg, staffing, facilities) and mechanical simulators in the teaching and assessment of students’ clinical skills was sent to the deans of the 23 fully accredited COMs and branch campuses.

Results: Responses were received from all 23 COMs for a 100% response rate. According to survey results, 19 COMs (87%) had active SPPs, 2 COMs (9%) reported that SPPs were in development, and the remaining 2 COMs (9%) used students as patients. In comparison, only 12 COMs (63%) in 2001 had active SPPs. Results indicated an increased use of standardized patients for assessment, particularly in physician-patient communication, osteopathic manipulative medicine, and osteopathic manipulative treatment. In addition, 12 COMs (52%) reported using mechanical simulators in the teaching or assessment of clinical skills.

Conclusions: From 2001 to 2005, the use of SPPs and mechanical simulators at COMs increased substantially.

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