Modelling the lay expert for first-year medical students: the actor-patient as teacher

Debra Nestel, Elizabeth Muir, Marilyn Plant, Jane Kidd, Sue Thurlow
Medical Teacher 2002, 24 (5): 562-4
Actors are widely used in medical education as simulated patients. In this session, the role of actors was extended to 'simulated students' and facilitators in an introductory communication session. After an initial activity with the entire cohort of first-year students, groups of 20 students worked with either an actor or medical teacher in three activities. The activities aimed to raise students' awareness of the range of communication challenges in medical education and practice. After the session, students completed evaluation forms based on their experiences in the session. The results revealed no difference between students who were facilitated by actors or medical teachers in relation to meeting the learning objectives and their ratings of the usefulness of the activities to support learning. The actors who participated in this session were experienced in working with medical students. Their enhanced role provides students with an opportunity to identify with and reflect on the expertise of a lay teacher and to consider extending their definition of a learning opportunity to more informal encounters.

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