Why Hospitals Hire People To Fake Being Sick

LUCAS CUSUMANO: Thank you. Open your mouth and say, aah. GALEN MURPHY-HOFFMAN: Aah. LUCAS CUSUMANO: Excellent. Any pain? NARRATOR: Scenes like
this take place every day in doctor’s offices. And at Einstein
Medical Center, that’s exactly what this is, a scene. The doctor is a medical student. And a patient, an actor. LUCAS CUSUMANO: Any
pain right there? OK. NARRATOR: At facilities
around the country, medical schools employ
standardized patients, or SPs, who are often
professional actors, to give students an education
into the real world. GALEN MURPHY-HOFFMAN: We
are creating characters with the information that the
medical school will give us. In order for it to be
effective, we as actors have to truly believe that
we’re in the pain that we’re in, and we need the
help that we need. MARLENA DATER: You
have certain lines that when they ask you
this, you should say this, to keep it standardized
while the students are given equal opportunity. And also it’s videotaped. The students get
to go back later, and look, and watch, and see. And also I’m grading the
students as well, not only on their history taking and
their physical exam skills, but most importantly, how they
made me feel as a patient. NARRATOR: Testing scenarios
range from simple office visits to comforting family members
that might have just lost a loved one. The cases are full
of details and clues that the students must navigate
to find the right diagnosis or response. LUCAS CUSUMANO:
Perfect, excellent. GALEN MURPHY-HOFFMAN:
And sometimes there are red herrings. Sometimes there is information
that you think is significant, but in fact, it’s in there to
send them down the wrong path and to trap them. LUCAS CUSUMANO: When someone
came for a shot then, what were you doing at the time? GALEN MURPHY-HOFFMAN: I
had just finished lunch. LUCAS CUSUMANO: OK. GALEN MURPHY-HOFFMAN: It came
on as I was [? in labs. ?] LUCAS CUSUMANO: How
severe is this pain? GALEN MURPHY-HOFFMAN: It’s
probably a six or a seven. LUCAS CUSUMANO: OK. DR. FELISE MILAN: Using this
kind of modality for assessment has really become the gold
standard, if you will, in medical education. And ultimately in
their fourth year, the students have to pass a 12
encounter standardized patient test to get a license
in this country. LUCAS CUSUMANO: I would
say the first time I ever worked with an SP, it
was a little daunting. I didn’t really even know
what to do, other than to say, hi, my name is Luke. GALEN MURPHY-HOFFMAN: And It
won’t be my heart, will it? LUCAS CUSUMANO: Oh, what’s
going on with your heart? Are you concerned
about this being–? GALEN MURPHY-HOFFMAN:
Well, I– just my father had a heart attack
and died of it. So I, was– I guess,
just wanted to make sure that– I don’t know if
anything in the stomach is about the heart. LUCAS CUSUMANO: I think
that’s the reality of what a health care system is now. We have to make these very
empathetic interactions happen very quickly,
and get the information as quickly as possible,
while still trying to maintain our
humanity and everything that people expect as doctors. NARRATOR: According to the 2016
Medscape Physician Compensation Report, most patients
only have 13 to 15 minutes with their doctor at
an average appointment. Doctors have to learn to
be efficient in that time but also develop
a bedside manner. MONICA: Hi, Joanne. My name’s Monica [INAUDIBLE]. I’m a medical student. I’m working with
your doctors today. MARLENA DATER: My
favorite role to play, and one I get cast in a
lot, is adolescent roles. It’s an acting process
for me, just trying to be, like, disinterested. Oh my god, I don’t
really want to be here. MONICA: Why do you think your
mom wanted you to come in? MARLENA DATER: I
don’t know, like, I’ve been having
these headaches, but, like, I don’t think it’s,
like, a big deal, but whatever. If she does, she’ll come in. MONICA: Can you tell me some
more about the headaches? MARLENA DATER: I don’t know. I don’t know, it’s,
like, a headache. How do you explain that. DR. FELISE MILAN:
We’re really asking them to use multiple
parts of their brain at once, because
they’re concentrating on being another person and
truly being in that role. At the same time,
they have to remember, did the student ask
me if I had a fever? Did the student ask me
what medicines I take? And how did the
student ask me that? To watch them do what they do,
and to see how fabulous they are at it, is remarkable. MARLENA DATER: Standardized
patient work, it’s like immediate
gratification and reward. Because you are
affecting a student. You’re affecting future
doctors of the world. And that sense, the world itself
because of all the patients. And it’s just such
a rippling effect. I love this work, love it. NARRATOR: Watch
this next episode about a group of
grad students who are developing a game changing
technology by converting a cell phone camera into a microscope.

62 thoughts on “Why Hospitals Hire People To Fake Being Sick

  1. I used to do this kind of thing when I was younger, it was a voluntary thing and the students had to find out my diagnosis(juvenile arthritis) and do a medical exam

  2. All moot. Its ultimately big insurance (people who have no medical education) that will determine what care you get…or don't get.

  3. Sooo in other words, these actors get paid to pretend to be assholes so the medical students will know how to interact with real assholes once they get out into the field.


  4. That morbidly obese chick doesn't even remotely look adolescent.
    Why does everybody in the video look like they're sweating profusely?

  5. Before watching the video, I thought they hire fake patients to identify the doctors who give a wrong diagnosis. But it seems that's not in favour of the hospitals!

  6. lol…come to india and you also can experiment your way of treatment on villagers and get your way of work perfected by trail and error…

  7. "These days, most patients only get 15 – 20 minutes with their doctors…" Heh, meanwhile in Chinese hospitals…. 3 minutes a patient: 1 minute getting familiar with the patient case and history, 1 minute interacting with the patient and finding their CC, and the final minute writing up the encounter and filling out related paperwork from blood tests to prescriptions…. else the hospitals would be even more swamped than it is…

  8. I've done a similar thing like this before. But for nurses. It was a great experience. Some of them were spot on, knew what they were doing and others not so much. This is where we come in. At the end of the 'scene' we give them feed back on how to improve in the future.

  9. This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Frazier turns his illness scenario into a theatrical act 😂

  10. …..THEY DO NOT DEAL WITH REAL PATIENTS? In my country, medical students deal with legit patients with legit sickness to pass their tests.

  11. I would do this just to be in a room that looks like a hospital, I wanna be a trauma surgeon 👩‍⚕️

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