Clinical Skills Learning Program - Educating, practicing and evaluating

On any given week, the Clinical Skills Learning Program (CSLP) delivers between 40-80 individual events with between 100-300 standardized patients that work during the course of that week.

“The number of projects delivered by our program has almost tripled during the past five years,” said Justin Quesnelle, manager of the CSLP. “Coordinating project volume with a relatively small team can be challenging – although we do certainly pride ourselves on being busy.”

The team is made up of eight full- and part-time staff including: Justin Quesnelle, Jane Graham, Alison Challis, Stephanie Desarmeau, Kristen Way, Sarah Green, Eva Blahut and Stephanie Forman-Brown.

The CSLP is an educational resource that provides learning and evaluative opportunities to both undergraduate and postgraduate medical students at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

The program facilitates numerous communication workshops and courses that aim to develop students’ soft skills, such as rapport, patient communication and interviewing.

“Typically, we have small group sessions in which a student or group of students interview a standardized patient who is portraying a role,” said Quesnelle. “The purpose of these sessions is to allow students an opportunity to practice and hone their communication skills in a safe environment.”

One of the most unique features of the program is the size and depth of their standardized patient database.

The standardized patients are laypeople who have been carefully coached and trained to simulate an actual patient with various historical, physical and emotional traits.

With approximately 650 standardized patients with active occasional part time contracts, the CSLP at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry has an impressive database that provides service to many external users, including Western Nursing and Fanshawe College programs such as Social Work, Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Respiratory Therapy.

CSLP has developed significantly since its inception at Western University through the dedication of faculty and volunteers.

It was established in 1993, when the Medical Council of Canada determined that a section of the application for licensure should include practical Objective Structured Clinical Examination. This prompted Schulich Medicine & Dentistry to create a program that offered an opportunity to further build, practice and evaluate clinical knowledge, as well as interpersonal and communication skills.

“The program was built from the ground up, and is now a large, credible and reliable educational and evaluative tool,” explains Quesnelle. “It’s a nice break from the classroom for students and it allows for development of skills that are essential in the workforce.”