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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid