Fake it till you make it

Medicine is one of the most coveted and noble professions- and this is no joke. The studying and knowledge part of it is one giant part of it- it enables one to stand in a position toassess and understand what the patient is undergoing- but another testing element of this profession is the responsibility of dealing with patients who could be in pain, not able to aptly describe what they are feeling, maybe even cranky and often grieving. Thus, empathy becomes an increasingly important quality to have along with information and skill-set. The frightening rise in morbidity and mortality among hospitalized patients amplifies apprehensions about professional aptitude. Nurses and other health care professionals are under augmented scrutiny to provide safe, operative care. Similarly, nursing education programs are confronted with heightened pressure to produce graduates who are proficient in providing safe patient care. For this, nursing education programs develop prospectuses, hire skilled faculty, and select educational practices for students in an effort to train and graduate competent, effective nurses.

The instructional stratagems employed in both moralistic and medical components of nursing education courses are highly dominant in defining critical thinking and clinical decision-making capability as well as in evolving the psychomotor skill performance of novel graduates. Therefore, simulation lab was introduced- robotic human simulators who can sweat, urinate and sneeze, although their skin doesn’t feel like real skin and does not bend as normal humans do. This invention by Jamie Musler, director of inter-professional Medical Simulation and the Arnold S. Goldstein Simulation Labs, could not achieve one mammoth task- making these simulators feel pain, which comes from life and not suffering.


To overcome this dichotomy, Northeastern University began working on the concepts of “patient actors”. Under this plan, students with little to no acting experience help simulate the plight of a patient in reality, following a script describing a particular condition, thus getting as close as it gets to simulating a high emergency situation to the maximum ability. To make a scene truly convincing and embody the condition, while real actors are required to create emotion by exaggeration, fake patients are briefed to be as close to real as possible- and therefore lesser the training, the better they would be at the job. Often, small triggers like someone in the simulation inciting a memory from our past or the environment of the lab being too sudden helps amplify the authenticity of the situation. These orchestrated simulations go a long way in providing the required training to nurses to really be trained for real emergencies; this can be termed as the purest and real form of method acting.


Sharanya Mathur

sharanya mathur


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