Cheryl Cox, a coordinator of experiential education for the Pharmacy Faculty, has used Standardized Patients with second and fourth-year students. “The simulations help students develop their clinical reasoning,” she says. They’re not simply following the questions in an interview guide. They have to build a trusting relationship with the patient, to be able to get pertinent information and to collaborate with the patient to determine if the medications are achieving optimal outcomes or putting the patient at risk.
SPs also play an important role in the professional development for preceptors in the Pharmacy Faculty, says Cox. “They can observe a simulation between a patient and a student, and then role-play how they would debrief that experience for the student. They learn what kind of questions they need to ask, to explore the clinical reasoning behind the student’s decisions.”
More recently, Cox has become excited about using SPs to broaden student learning. Recently, she had U of A pharmacy students create Standardized Patients and simulations with their peers. She decided to take the exercise one step further, by having the students observe and debrief each other. The facilitator role became twofold – to support the teams in the simulations and to support the debriefing activities. “We need to teach our students how to be more reflective in their own practice prior to starting their clinical placements and further developing their clinical reasoning.”