Standardized Patients Take Part in New Buddy Program

The Standardized Patient Program at the AU/UGA Medical Partnership heavily focuses on human interaction. But with the recent COVID-19 pandemic, interacting with others came to a halt.

The program has had 12 new hires within the last three months, which means many new faces are completely new and inexperienced and have been unable to meet with their fellow SPs.

To allow the new SPs to acclimate better during these circumstances, Dr. Jo Alrbitton, Campus Director of Standardized Patient Program, and Tina Powers, Program Coordinator for Standardized Patient Program, decided to implement the SP Buddy Program.

“The SP Buddy Program was created to pair a newly hired SP with a seasoned SP, one who has more than a year of volunteer/work experience,” said Powers. “We have initiated a buddy program so that these new SPs can learn from the experiences that the seasoned SPs have such as ways they study the script, student encounter experiences, and things they’ve learned that work and things that don’t work.”

Sherry Malone, who has been an SP for four years, and Toni Jones, a new SP, have been paired together, and they are already seeing the benefits.

“The SP buddy program will give me a specific person to ask all my questions and gain feedback once we start working with the students. It helps me be more organized with the questions I have to discuss,” said Jones. “I think it will help me acclimate more quickly. If we were able to meet in person, lots of casual conversation with the participants would have answered some of my questions, but this way I know I have a specific person to address these questions.”

“I also think the buddy system will be a good thing,” said Malone. “I’ve already talked to Toni, and we talked for over an hour about what to wear including shoes, bras and pants, examples of giving the students feedback, what to expect from different encounters, and lots of other things.”

“This is all information that I can tell them about, but it is better coming from someone who has experienced it or has done it,” said Powers.

Malone and Jones said they are thankful for the buddy program, and they can’t wait for the SP interactions to get underway

“I believe my SP buddy Toni and I will add another level of friendship,” said Malone. “I enjoy being part of these SP experiences as I learn so much myself.”

“I can’t wait to get started!” said Jones. “I’m excited to play a part in the training of our medical students.”

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