My acting gig as a Standardized Patient ended Monday with the last round of medical students. Over four afternoons, I had 24 abdominal exams as well as having my heart and lungs checked each time. There was a lot of heavy breathing/hyperventilating on my part, and I never did a header off the table even though it made me woozyish.
I was a 45 year-old English professor, married with no kids, who liked to camp and hike with my husband when the weather was good. And a high functioning alcoholic. That's the tricky part for the kids. Nearly every student asked me something that wasn't covered in training such as:
So where do you like to camp? Haven't been in forty years.
Who's your favorite poet? Dr. Seuss.
What's your husband do? Make me crazy.
You said you eat out a lot. Where do you go? Culver's with a coupon.
How often do you and your husband have sex? What?????
What kind of English do you teach? Blogger English.
It was a lying fest for four days and more than one student told me I played a good, cagey alcoholic. Why, thank you. After they did the exam and asked a meeeeeellion things about my fake life, they went in the hall while I answered some questions on the computer about what they did or did not do. When that was done, I called them back in, introduced myself and we talked about how it went.
I met students who were English and philosophy undergrads, a paramedic, a writer, a former teacher in one rough part of Chicago, a Giants fan, and a diabetic. Without exception they want to get better, and are willing to get input and advice from somebody they just met on how to make that happen.
I can't say it was easy, but I can say it was interesting, enlightening, and encouraging. Oh, and a few years down the road, we'll be in very good hands.