A Nottingham man has told how he sometimes dies seven times a day… to help train the doctors of the future.
Clive Hallam, from Gedling, is just one of many simulant patient volunteers helping Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) to train medical students.
Along with his wife, Barbara, Clive volunteered after seeing a leaflet in his GP’s surgery in 2007, and role-plays a patient with a variety of ailments.
“I’ve been on Nottingham Forest football pitch with a broken leg,” said Clive. “I’ve also had a ruptured spleen, blood coming out of my ears – sometimes I die seven times a day!”
Medical students undergo five years of training to become doctors, and learning to speak to and assess patients is a vital part of this. Real patients with real problems are a crucial part of the students’ education, allowing them to practise their skills in a safe environment, and develop their communication, diagnostic, and clinical skills.
The volunteers could pose as transplant patients, or those with complex cardiovascular or respiratory conditions, musculoskeletal disorders, and those with complex surgical histories. They might be interviewed about their medical history, or asked to simulate health issue such as shortness of breath, cardiovascular issues, and trauma.
Clive said: “Not only do I enjoy the challenge of the work but I like the fact that I’m contributing to medical students’ education who are the future of the NHS.
“Our lives could be in the hands of one of these future doctors after they have qualified. They are, without fail, always grateful for our contribution.”
Jean Sheridan, 77, from Wollaton, has been a simulated patient for around 12 years after seeing an advert on a City Hospital noticeboard.
“When I first started volunteering I was basically just a body for the students to practice examinations on, such as cardio, respiratory or GI, etc, which I call ‘pokey proddy’ sessions!
“After a few months, I started doing simple simulations and realised how much I enjoyed it. After a few years of gradually building on my knowledge and confidence, I did some training with the Department of Research and Education in Emergency Medicine, Acute Medicine and Major Trauma (DREEAM) at the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC). And I haven’t looked back – it’s the best thing I ever did!
“I absolutely love it and love working with the students and watching them grow in knowledge and confidence. They are absolutely lovely to work with and I think we all learn something from the sessions.
“I’m doing more and more these days – I’m usually in three or four times a week, some half days, some full. I used to hardly see my husband Tom because I was at the hospital more than I was at home, but just before Christmas, he started doing a few sessions too. I think he thought if you can’t beat them join them!”
Every year, volunteers, staff and students come together for a thank you event at the Undergraduate Medical Education Department.
Nick Kythreotis, Medical Education Manager, said: “We were delighted as a team at NUH to thank our amazing clinical and simulated patients. They make a real difference and a positive contribution to the quality of medical education that we provide for the medical students based at NUH, which in turn helps support and train our future doctors.”