News / USA

Medical Exam Provides Stage for Actors

Performers playact their symptoms for future health-care professionals

June Soh

Most actors perform in movies, TV or theatres, but for others, the stage is an exam room at a medical school.  

At the University of Maryland School of Nursing, that involves an interactive performance with a medical student.

Ted Bell portrays a 55-year-old patient who'd had stomach pain for three months.

“I am a teacher," he tells nursing student Emily Tyrrell. "Several times it has happened at school."

Bell is actually a retired civil engineer. Acting as a patient for students training to be health-care professionals is his new career. The job’s formal title is “standardized patient”.  

“It has developed into a great part time, or retirement job actually, for me," he says, "and I go to all six [medical] schools in this region, Baltimore-Washington area.”

There are about 700 standardized patients in this region. The pay starts at $17 per hour and can go up to $35 depending on the project. And the demand for their services is high.

“It is quite common at schools of medicine," says Kathy Schaivone, clinical director at the University of Maryland. "So every medical school in the United States and many medical schools around the world use standardized patients.”

Acting experience, while helpful, is not required. Nor is medical knowledge. The schools provide training and payment for the performances.

“Many of them are professionals but I have never been paid for acting other than the [this] role-playing," Bell says, "but it requires some acting ability so I guess I would consider myself an actor.”

Professional actor Tom Wyatt acts the role of patient with Kurt Haspert, a nurse practitioner student.
Professional actor Tom Wyatt acts the role of patient with Kurt Haspert, a nurse practitioner student.

Professional actor Tom Wyatt doesn’t think of his side job as acting.

“I use some of the acting skills, but honestly when it is going well, I am not really acting, I am reacting," he says. "I am listening to them and reacting naturally and honestly to what they are saying to me and what they are giving me.”

Wyatt and fellow standardized patients spend many hours training for each of the cases in order to know how to respond to questions appropriately. But memorizing their characters’ symptoms and medical history is not always easy.

“Especially when I do sometimes nine or 10 cases in a week at three different hospitals so they are all completely different,” Wyatt says.  

The actors' role is not limited to portraying a sick patient. After each session, they give feedback to the student.  

“The things that really stood out for me; your manner is extremely professional," Wyatt tells Kurt Haspert, the nurse practitioner student who treated him. "You command at all times, you kind of take charge of the room.”  

Haspert finds the session to be very useful.

“It is always good to do the standardized patients because it kind of keeps you thinking about how your thought process has to go," he says, "and how you can narrow down your differential diagnosis while you are asking questions.”

While the primary focus is on providing the best educational experience possible for the students, the actors enjoy performing.

“Very rewarding," says Bell, the retired engineer. "They say it is very helpful. That makes me feel good that we are turning out some good medical people.”

After three sessions here, Bell heads out to his next gig at another medical school, to continue his role in helping train tomorrow's health professionals.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid