Advances in Health Sciences Education

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 237-248

First online:

The Use of Standardized Patients To Teach and Test Interpersonal and Communication Skills with Students in Speech-Language Pathology

  • Richard I. ZraickAffiliated withSlot 772, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Email author 
  • , Ruth M. AllenAffiliated withSlot 772, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  • , Sherry B. JohnsonAffiliated withSlot 772, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of standardized patients (SPs) with aphasia to teach interpersonal and communication skills to new graduate student-clinicians in Speech-Language Pathology, and to test those skills via serial Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs). This study had three phases: (1) clinical teaching using SPs, (2) mid-term evaluation via a single case OSCE, and (3) end-of-term evaluation via a multi-case OSCE. These phases were integrated with classroom teaching and testing components over a 16-week academic semester. Eighteen students participated while concurrently enrolled in a course on diagnosis and management of aphasia taught by the first author. One half of the class received initial instruction via a combination of didactic lecture and standardized patient interaction, while the other half of the class was taught initially via didactic lecture only. On OSCEI, there was no statistically significant difference between the two groups in their interpersonal and communication skills, with the class as a whole demonstrating less than acceptable competency. After targeting these skills in all students via additional class lectures, there was a statistically and clinically significant improvement in their competency in this area on OSCE II. Student feedback was positive.

aphasia clinical evaluation interpersonal and communication skills objective structured clinical examination speech-language pathology standardized patient