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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 323

Faculty as Simulated Patients (FSPs) in Assessing Medical Students' Clinical Reasoning Skills

1 University of Sharjah, College of Medicine, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
2 University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, United Arab Emirates

Correspondence Address:
Nahed M Abdelkhalek
P O Box 27272, Sharjah
United Arab Emirates
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 20029766

Context: At the University of Sharjah College of Medicine in the United Arab Emirates, clinical faculty are used as simulated patients (FSP) to assess students' communication, history taking and reasoning skills on summative Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs). Objectives: The aim of this study is to evaluate student and faculty perceptions of using a faculty member simultaneously as both the simulated patient and the assessor in OSCEs. Methods: Two structured questionnaires were developed. The questionnaires measured, on a five-point Likert scale, the students' and faculty's agreement with statements related to the ability of the FSPs to convince students that they were real patients, to respond to students' questions, and to evaluate students' skills in questioning, communication and clinical reasoning. Responses to items were collapsed into three-point scales (3=Agree/Strongly Agree, 2=Neutral/Uncertain, 1=Disagree/Strongly Disagree). Students' and faculty's responses to the questionnaires' items were summarized and presented in frequencies, percentages and mean scores. Findings: A total of 412 students and 28 FSPs responded to the questionnaires with response rates of 98% and 93%, respectively. The encounter with a FSP was generally found not to be stressful by students and faculty. Students were able to think of the FSP as a real patient and faculty generally felt they were able to assess the students' reasoning processes, communication skills and history taking. The percentage of students who agreed or strongly agreed with the various positively-worded questionnaire items ranged from a lowest of 52% (mean = 2.32) to a highest of 78% (mean = 2.66) and among faculty ranged from a lowest of 61% (mean = 2.54) to a highest of 100% (mean=3.0). Conclusion: Student and faculty perceptions about the simultaneous use of faculty as simulated patients and assessors were generally positive. The results of this study encouraged the program to continue using FSPs on formative and summative OSCE assessments. Further studies are needed to assess its generalizability and application in other contexts.

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