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Building on Work Group recommendations and consistent with the evidence in medical education, the OSTITM will feature “hands-on” active learning and skills practice using simulation-based learning and performance-driven assessment that represent the gold standard for objective competency evaluation of medical students. The OSTITM curriculum will encompass a series of clinical interactions with standardized patients (SPs) who portray realistic patient encounters commonly experienced in day to day clinical practice and reflect the 10 core competencies selected by the Governor’s Working Group. 

As examples, the SP scenarios are being designed to:

  • Address sound prescribing for acute and chronic pain
  • Screen and assess addiction and prescription drug misuse using evidence driven models
  • Apply commonly used tools and interventions such as naloxone rescue, drug urine screening, and prescription monitoring data bases

The OSTITM program will also challenge learners to develop and advance their interpersonal skills, awareness of their own biases, and compassionate and equitable care for all patients suffering with substance misuse and dependency, across the broad and diverse range of social and demographic determinants of health. The cross-disciplinary model for the OSTITM program combines graduating medical and nursing students, together with faculty from both the T.H. Chan School of Medicine and Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing, for a fully interprofessional teaching and learning experience.


In simulated setting, a learner “encounter” with a standardized patient replicates the look and feel of an interaction with a real patient, so that the learners' skills can be practiced and improved, "learning by doing" in a setting where it is safe to make mistakes. (Simulated patient encounters can occur in group settings, or one on one, and may or may not include physical exam skills or a variety of other important skills including writing a prescription, interpreting a lab result, giving bad news or counselling a patient.)  To find out more about the role that SPs play in student learning, read below or you can watch this video. 

The Standardized Patient’s Role

The Standardized Patient (SP) is trained to support the educational needs of the learner. In order to meet diverse learner needs, our SPs are specially trained in a number of areas, so that the SP...

  • Is physically and mentally present, and prepared
  • Portrays the case with standardized accuracy, relaying key details (when asked), and avoids volunteering information
  • Portrays the affect (or emotional state) with the same strength and force as other SPs, so that the affect provides the learner with a variety of patient-types, while still supporting standardization goals
  • Pays attention to the learner – and keeps track of things the learner is doing so later they are prepared to score the learner and provide feedback
  • Provides effective feedback using many open-ended questions: encouraging the learner to evaluate their own performance 
  • Is an empathetic educator and coach – providing examples of strengths and areas for improvement (but does not lecture on medical content)

The Learner’s Role

The learner is expected to complete each encounter with specified tasks or skills to be demonstrated, as determined by the case and the goals of the encounter. Examples of skills commonly practiced include conducting a medical interview, developing empathetic communication skills, and sometimes practicing physical exam techniques. To get the most out of the SP encounter, learners must adapt to the setting that is being portrayed, engage with the SP as they would a "real" patient and practice, and/or demonstrate the intended skills and competencies, as consistent with the needs of the case. Once learners commit to these learning principles, their feedback is uniformly positive and reinforces the value of SP simulated learning experience in preparing them for the real world experience of caring for their own patients.

OSTITM Leadership

This program is being lead by an interprofessional team of dedicated clinician educators, under the sponsorship of the Deans of the T.H. Chan School of Medicine and the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing at UMass Chan and through the oversight of Offices of Educational Affairs and Undergraduate Medical Education. The project brings together a broad and diverse spectrum of faculty and content experts across medicine and nursing, a wide range of clinical departments, residency programs, educational affiliates, community resources and educational partner’s state wide including the Massachusetts Medical Society and Department of Public Health. Key to the success of our project is the active engagement of our medical and nursing students in all aspects of this work, including curriculum development, faculty development and implementation planning. 

OSTITM sessions will be conducted in iCELS, in the Albert Sherman Center on the UMass Chan University Campus.