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It looks like an average doctors visit, but it’s not. Here cameras are rolling, the doctor is a student, and the patient is an actor.

“Yes, you could say that the standardized patients are actors, but they act within the script that we give them,” says Dr. Elma I. LeDoux of Tulane Univeristy School of Medicine.

This is a glimpse inside Tulane Medical Schools Standardized Patient Program. It’s a simulated clinic where our future doctors get to practice on real people and work out the nerves.

Student Brian Agganis says, “For a lot of us, we just come into med school and a lot of people just don’t have experience working with people in that setting, so this is really our first chance to practice in what ends up being a very realistic setting.”

“These are participants who are trained in organ systems, and they are also trained to assess the students in terms of specific test points,” says Dr. LeDoux, “Medcine has changed. Many years ago patients would stay in the hospital a week or two perhaps having tests. In the very least some of the patients were not as critically ill as they are now, so many years ago students had more of an opportunity, more time to spend with patients. Now patients are treated, and they’re sent out, so there isn’t a lot of time to develop those skills that normally would be a function of the patients leangth of stay.”

By the time a medical student graduates from Tulane they’ve had about 16 encounters with these actors. Actually, Tulane Medical School was one of the first in the country to impliment this program 25 years ago, and now just about every medical school does it.