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The Clinical Skills Center provides a safe, structured and standardized environment in which diverse healthcare professionals can learn through self-reflection, observation, communication and compassion. Using a standardized patient program, the center helps learners improve clinical skills while developing the ability to reach beyond the clinical diagnosis and treat each patient with dignity and humanity.

A standardized patient is an individual who has been carefully trained to portray a patient, family member or other character in a variety of circumstances, from the simple (routine physical exam) to the more complex (disease diagnosis). Working with standardized patients, learners are able to practice physical examination skills; history-taking skills and communication skills; and receiving immediate feedback from faculty, peers and the patient or patients. Learners may interact with standardized patients in small group settings or in one-on-one encounters.

The center provides the ability to assess clinical skills in a controlled environment using the standardized patient program and input from faculty of the Zucker School of Medicine and the School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. The Observed Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE), which provides learners the opportunity to interview and examine standardized patients in a mock clinical setting, is a powerful assessment tool. Trained to observe the learner, the standardized patient delivers feedback after the encounter, providing both a written summary and a face-to-face debriefing. The encounters are recorded, and pre- and post-encounter data is collected and reviewed by faculty.

Standardized patients are an increasingly popular and important addition to both clinical and nonclinical instructional programs throughout the health system. The Clinical Skills Center also provides services to diverse clinical and nonclinical departments involved in a wide range of health system initiatives and research projects.