An actor helping to train medical students

Robert Isenberg works part-time as an actor (standardized patient) helping to train medical students >>

“Is there a way I could make you more comfortable?” asks John, whose head has cocked sideways, because he’s “showing empathy” and “maintaining eye-contact.” He has learned this from countless hours of lectures and workshops. If there’s one thing I’ve discovered, empathy and eye contact don’t come naturally to MCAT whizzes.

“When you asked about my job,” I say, “I felt you were expressing interest in my personal life, and you weren’t strictly focused on the prognosis. And that made me feelcared for.”

John smiles humbly. He nods his head and even rocks a little, because for him this is a test, a test he badly wants to pass. And he has passed, because he’s a fine interviewer, he’s got healthy instincts, he shows compassion and genuine concern, and one day, I’m a hundred percent confident, he’ll make a satisfactory doctor. Maybe not great, but who needs a great general practitioner?


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