Best of Both Worlds: The Simulated Patient and The Examiner

Written by Gabia Neverauskaitė, Psychologist & Remote Assessment Coordinator,

Assessment is an essential factor for us here at, as described in formative assessment, thus, it is of great importance to train our simulated patients accordingly. We take careful precautions when employing actors to ensure they are aptly suited for the role. Primarily, actors must have vast experience being simulated patients within medical education roleplay, e.g. Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs). Although they receive full training, we like to see some background in delivering feedback, i.e. being comfortable sharing critique on performance. 

These actors are more than just simulated patients, they are also our examiners who are trained to assess and give feedback to participants. There are many perks to employing non-doctor examiners, such as judging students solely on their performance and scoring them according to the assessment criteria. Doctors are prone to bias as their medical knowledge encourages them to penalise students for things they should have done/said in practical exams1. Simulated patients in particular are known to be ideal examiners for the OSCEs2. Our actors come from all walks of life and therefore, each one brings something special to our service. Having a diverse group of examiners means that station designs and marking schemes are dissected from different perspectives3, which deciphers where adjustments can be made.

As our actor pool is consistently upgrading to welcome new actors, we conduct training sessions to familiarise them with, and this also acts as a refresher for our experienced actors. It is essential for us to be consistent with these sessions as examiner training is a major part of OSCE implementation3. The training session begins with an introduction to the system, whereby the actors receive a walkthrough of how it works. Instructions are provided for various procedures including; how to log in using a unique examiner identifier, how to open and amend assessment forms, and how to flag system issues, among many other things. The training is followed up by the feedback segment whereby our actors are taught how to deliver safe and effective feedback to candidates. As discussed in feedback approach, we deliver both verbal and written feedback which should be specific, balanced, and constructive while maintaining behavioural and described gap aspects throughout. Questions are welcomed at the end of the session to encourage our actors to discuss any worries or uncertainties. We always want to make sure they are content and competent with what their roles entail so that our candidates receive the best possible service.

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