A ‘patient’ decides to give back to the Medical School
When Barbara Simms retired after teaching remedial reading for more than 30 years at Indian Landing Elementary School in suburban Rochester, the parents of several of her students recommended a new line of work for her—standardized patient.
Simms played her first patient at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry about three years ago and she loves the experience.
“I just fell into it. They told me former teachers were very good at it,” she said. “It is so rewarding. I’m learning all the time. We study different cases and meet with doctors so we’re prepared when we go in as a patient. It keeps my mind active.”
Simms also sees the importance of the standardized patient in medical education.
“We all hope to enhance the students’ skills in the areas of interviewing, history taking, diagnosing, performing physical exams and counseling,” she said. “After working as a standardized patient, but also sometimes being a real patient, I personally feel that the interpersonal relationship between doctor and patient is extremely important when working toward achieving medical goals. It’s important for the patient to feel acknowledged, respected and that he or she is being listened to.”
Working with medical students and watching them improve appeals to the teacher in Simms.
“Seeing the students progress is mesmerizing,” she said. “There is so much growth. They develop and they develop in relating to people. I really like that the students are so supportive of each other. I’ve seen this during first year Introduction to Clinical Medicine classes. If a student makes a mistake or flounders during their patient interview, the other students will always give and positive feedback. Standardized patients are the same, in a way. We are all teaching and learning.”
Simms has found the experience as a standardized patient working with medical students so rewarding that she says she wants to give something back. She has decided to fund a substantial endowed scholarship for medical students.
“I had written a will and I was going to leave my money for education at my elementary school and to my friends and relatives,” Simms said. “This is much more powerful and it will affect many more people. By helping one doctor, I could affect thousands of people and their health. That seems more appropriate than leaving money to friends.”
The medical students have impressed Simms.
“They have to go through a difficult selection process to get in to the Medical School. I can tell they are all dedicated. My gift will be money well spent,” Simms said.
Multimedia in this issue:
Brad Berk talks about his recovery from a cervical fracture.
The Sights of Reunion 2009
View a slideshow of the event.
The Heart of the Medical Center
View and listen to a narrated slideshow about the Miner Library then and now.