Abstract: With funding from NIH/NIDA, we are creating online skills training materials for medical students on the interface of addiction and pain using Remote Live Standardized Patient (RLSP) interviews conducted via Internet based chat. Our program trains students to properly assess patients in pain, minimize potential opioid misuse, and maximize pain treatment, especially for patients with past or ongoing addiction. An assessment of medical students' skills development because of the intervention is planned.
Purpose: Medical school curricula lack skills training on the interface of addiction and pain. Lack of clinical skills can lead to under-treatment of pain, overuse of opioids in at-risk patients, diversion, exposure to addictive substances without proper monitoring, and worsening of prior addictive disease. Complete skills training in this complicated topic is essential to the students' professional development. SP-based training should be an effect way of addressing the training needs of medical students.
Methods: The project creates a novel, interactive, Web-based curriculum incorporating an RLSP interview into the learning experience.The RLSP experience provides students with an opportunity to review the patient's chart, ask for a variety of labs, test results, and ask interview questions. Internet-based standardized patients reply to the student via chat; additional information and results are presented online. Students also complete a SOAP medical note, including a differential diagnosis and treatment plan for each potential diagnosis. The remote chat modality offers significant advantages vs traditional face-to-face interviews, including: reduced cost, complete transcripts, and increased SP actor flexibility. Chat allows students to conduct the interview in 'real time'; yet they can still pause to reflect without the stress of a face-to-face interview. Given the complexity of teaching skills related to pain and addiction these benefits may be especially helpful.
Results: Medical students are successfully able to interact via chat. They report positive attitudes towards this communication modality, and can practice and improve interviewing skills.
Conclusion: The RLSP experience is a viable means to provide skills training. An evaluative study will assess its ability to enhance their communication skills, and develop core competencies.