The Guiding Patients program at GA-PCOM helps student with a "step-by-step" learning process in progressing from practice to real life experiences.
Ten years ago at Georgia Campus – Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (GA-PCOM), a business was born.
In Philadelphia, with a multitude of medical schools in close proximity, lay people serving as patient teaching associates were available to help teach PCOM students how to examine the male and female reproductive systems. Such a program did not exist in Georgia a decade ago.
With the support of H. William Craver III, DO, now the dean of the School of Osteopathic Medicine, Scott George, who participates in the administration of the Step 2 clinical skills segment of the United States Medical Licensing Examination, was summoned.
George recruited and trained the first cadre of “Guiding Patients” in the Southeast. These patients guided our medical students with instruction and feedback as the students actually practiced their skills on the body of the instructor. This happened ten years ago and continues each winter for second year DO students.
According to Dr. Michael Sampson, the Guiding Patients allow the students to take the next step from practice on pelvic simulation models to real life experiences.
“As associate dean for clinical integration, my team takes the student from the 'knowing why' they need to do the exam to 'knowing how' to do the exam, keeping in mind the whole person/patient focused medical concept," Sampson said.
The program takes place in GA-PCOM's newly renovated Simulation Center where two to three students are paired with a Guiding Patient. Faculty members are able to see and listen to the physical exams through computer monitoring and offer feedback following the exams.
“The Guiding Patients were so helpful and kind and have a wealth of information," said student Farrah Rink. "They are greatly skilled at putting students at ease.”
Nicholas Patel, also a second-year student, said, “I felt like I really learned the procedures.”
Karla Booker, MD, the Director of Women’s Health Education who serves as a faculty member for the Gwinnett Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program and a guest lecturer for GA-PCOM, along with faculty member Renee Himmelbaum, DO ’13, a GA-PCOM grad who is working to establish a pediatric practice in Gwinnett, were two of the monitors.
“The facility itself is amazing, along with the quality of the Guiding Patients,” Booker said. “It’s exciting to be able to contribute to the future of medicine with these young minds by passing on the pearls of physical examination.”
“You never forget your Guiding Patient,"said Himmelbaum, thinking back to her time at GA-PCOM. "It will stick in the minds of students forever."
“The program enables a student to learn step-by-step while being instructed by the patient who is very familiar with the procedures," said Dr. Ali Moradi, Director of Primary Care Skills for GA-PCOM. "The Guiding Patients not only teach the mechanical aspect of the exams, but also put a great emphasis on the patient-centered approach. These same skills apply to any type of exam, not just intimate exams. An emphasis must be placed on how our students communicate with patients.”
Other faculty members who participate in the program include Gary Freed, DO, (pediatrics) and Darren Wannamaker, DO (internal medicine).
With more than 30 medical schools in the Southeast now on the Clinical Skills USA client roster, George said, “I owe a great deal of thanks to PCOM for introducing the same method of training to Georgia as Philadelphia schools had experienced.”
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine which has a storied history as a premier osteopathic medical school. PCOM Georgia offers the doctor of osteopathic medicine degree, the doctor of pharmacy degree, the doctor of physical therapy degree, as well as graduate degrees in biomedical sciences and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center, an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 678-225-7500.
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