While investigating medical school or attending interview days, you probably heard the words ‘SPs’ and ‘SIM lab’ thrown around as if they were common knowledge. To me, they most certainly were not. Now that I’ve been in school for a few months though, these words are part of my weekly schedule and crucial to my learning.
SP stands for Standardized Patient.
These are people that are trained to be patients for medical students. This allows us to interact with patients in a safe environment so that we can develop professionalism and bedside manner. Additionally, we can practice physical exams and patient interview skills. At Larner College of Medicine, we tend to work with our SPs about once a week with a new focus every week. Today, I’ll be learning how to perform eyes, ears, nose, and throat exams. It usually works with us having readings and watching a demo video prior then working through the exams with our SPs and learning what it’s like to perform them on a living, breathing human.
SIM labs are Simulation Labs.
Often times, these mean working with the SPs in rooms designed to emulate doctor’s offices. You wear your white coat and your stethoscope and when you walk in, you act the part. *Yes it still feels like acting to me*
There are, however, other aspects to SIM labs including using point-of-care ultrasound techniques or ‘dummy’ bodies that you can practice techniques on. One of my favorites is Harvey who resembles a crash-test dummy but has different heart beats and sounds so that we can learn how to identify murmurs and diagnose different cardiac issues.
I hope this clears up some of the confusion that I had prior to starting med school. Please let me know if you have any other specific questions because I’d love to be able to target my content to your curiosity 🙂