Relevance of SPs in Health Care and Medical Education

Changes in health care are having a profound impact on medical education, making SPs the most effective tool for teaching and assessing standards of doctor-patient interaction.

SPs can prepare the students for clinical work in their first years of medical school, making them capable of efficient and accurate patient workups so that they can contribute to the care of patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

With SPs, learners are challenged throughout their medical education with innumerable varieties of common complaints and exotic “zebras,” exposing them to the equivalent of an encyclopedia of disease and diversity.

There is an increasing concern for more valid assessment of student and physician performance beyond the limited capability of the unidimensional, multiple-choice questions that only assess recognition of isolated facts. To this end, the National Board of Medicial Examiners implemented the SP exam as part of the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) in 2004.

In addition, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) has recommended medical schools conduct a summative clinical skills exam to assess students' minimum clinical competencies. Penn Med students are required to pass the Clinical Skills Inventory (CSI) after they complete all required clerkships and before they begin their senior year.