Needs assessment in continuing medical education through standardized patients


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Abstract

Needs assessment in continuing medical education (CME) has been enhanced by the use of standardized patients (SPs). A SP is a healthy subject who is trained to accurately and consistently present a particular medical case, or an actual patient who is trained to pre-sent his or her own illness in a standardized way. SPs offer a valid and reliable method of assessing the performance of physicians and, as such, can be helpful in CME. This technique can be used to assess the real needs of physicians, either in a competence or a performance setting. The method can be particularly useful if the objective is to focus on the interaction between patients and doctors. This paper introduces readers to SPs including issues of valid-ity, reliability, Feasibility, and acceptability and provides a comparison of how SPs are different From other assessment methods. The paper includes a selected review on the use of SPs For CME as well as a critique of their use. The paper ends with a practical description of how SPs can be used in developing and assessing a CME program and concludes with the dire-ctions that should be taken to Further their use in CME environments.

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