Getting the right medical students — nature versus nurture
One of the primary reasons that Dr. Howard Barrows pioneered the practice of using standardized patients was to provide a method for improving communications skills for medical students. That raison d'etre is still applicable today, as is shown in this 2015 article in the New England Journal of Medicine. The author, Dr. Richard Schwartzstein, is Associate Chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), as well as Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He has a strong interest in medical education and holds leadership positions in education at BIDMC and at Harvard Medical School.
Dr Schwartzstein notes that the need to train medical students to communicate effectively with patients is as relevant as ever. He recommends several approaches for sustaining compassion and communications skills in medical school. Salient to SP educators, he recommends "refining measures for assessing interpersonal skills," and we all fully realize that using SPs is a primary method for doing so. We hope you enjoy reading this insightful article.
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