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Medical drama

13 June 2011

Health impact of spending decisions

Actors might be used to faking injury and illness for TV cameras – but not necessarily to help put the next generation of Welsh doctors through their final paces.

Final year University medical students are testing their key medical skills and procedures on some actors as well as genuine outpatients and members of the public currently being cared for at the University Hospital of Wales.

Patients play a crucial role in ensuring assessments are authentic. The medical students, as part of their final examinations, will be tested and marked on their ability to perform a series of medical procedures and diagnose patient’s conditions.

"Role-play is an important part of the training for medical students but the use of genuine patients for the student’s final exams will demonstrate their competency as new Doctors," according to the University’s Vice-Dean of Medical Education, Helen Sweetland.

"They are examined on both their clinical knowledge and communication skills such as asking difficult or private questions or overcoming any embarrassment or reluctance.

"It is no good for medical students to know or watch a procedure - they need to demonstrate their ability to do it," she adds.

The practical examinations are assessed by medical staff and will involve practical problem solving where students are given a patient scenario, discuss assessment and management possibilities, and then demonstrate assessment and treatment skills.

Matthew, a patient from Cardiff who volunteered to take part in the project said: "It's great to come along and help out future doctors."

Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) are designed to test a range of clinical skills and competence in skills such as communication, clinical examination and medical procedure.

The OSCEs consist of a circuit of short work stations, in which each candidate is examined on a one-to-one basis. The examiners are GPs and hospital doctors from all over Wales who are regularly involved with teaching students both in Cardiff and other parts of Wales.

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