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Clinical Skills Laboratory

On 14th March 2011, Jonathan Heron and five members of the Student Ensemble attended the Clinical Skills Laboratory at the Caludon Centre, Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust, a core part of the medical school’s psychiatry curriculum, to observe the use of role play and simulation within medical training. During the laboratory, medical students rotate through six stations each with an experienced clinical teacher and a simulated patient with a different mental health condition. The idea is to practice taking psychiatric histories prior to clinical exposure. The student ensemble group noted that the realistic portrayal of the medical conditions was paramount and there are both scientific and empathic foci within the encounter.

Student Ensemble Member A reflected,

What the interviewers have to do is....shape the conversation, draw out the information, and attempt to successfully structure both into a coherent form that can either sustain the conversation or draw the conversation to a conclusion; treatment.”

Student Ensemble Member B added,

Empathy and sympathy was just as important in gleaning information as getting all the appropriate questions in! Sometimes there seemed to be a very thin line between reality and performance!”

The OSL Psychiatry Lead Learner, writes:

Medical students have to learn “lines” in order to take a clear concise history, and as we are learning, we want to show compassion but at the same time we are planning and considering our questions. This may seem insincere but when it comes to taking a history in 10 minutes it may appear to be more like a performance than reality. Over 4 years we develop the clinical skills to become doctors, and we do re-enact scenarios, including practising being the patient, but then suddenly we are on the wards; our stage. At this point we have stepped out of our practised ‘role’ because we are faced with reality. How do other professions learn their job? By experience and being faced with the situations and learning from them. Any healthcare profession is constant education and development and the variety of personalities and interaction is immense and challenging on a daily basis."