Journal Article: How Do Standardized Patients Form Their Complex Identities? The Impact of Interactions with Medical Students

Lead Author: Samantha A. Starr, BS et al
Submitted by: Claudia Arancibia & Sergio Bozzo, Clinical Skills Center, University of Chile

SPs’ participation in medical education is becoming broader and more powerful in assessments, physical examination instruction and debriefing. Just as their role expands, so does the interest in knowing their perspectives, their thoughts, and their vision of the role they play. If you ask SPs about who they have become since they started working as SPs, you will discover how they have changed, and this could be something big, like a new identity. You may think, this should be expected, as with students and SP educators, but we have not known much about it. This knowledge could be important as you consider its influence on future activities and the development of an SP program.

Several studies have pointed out the impact that SPs’ participation in medical education has on themselves, while this article focuses on their identity. Through qualitative research, based on social relational theory - a constructivist perspective - individuals become who they are through a dynamic process of interacting with others within a social context. To understand the process of SP identity formation through the SP-medical student interaction, a series of SP focus groups were developed and carefully analyzed. Four major themes were identified: (1) identity transformation; (2) self-actualization; (3) judgmental reactions to medical student behaviors; and (4) simulation-reality interaction between their simulated and real selves.

This complex and multidimensional new identity moves from student support into its own personal growth, and includes a high sense of social responsibility. The authors provide valuable suggestions for selection, training, and retention of SPs, and relates this topic to ASPE SOBP.

Read the full article in the Simulation in Healthcare here.

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