It’s Volunteers’ Week and so we want to recognise the invaluable contribution made by our Patient Partners in helping educate and prepare the medical professionals of tomorrow.
Patient Partners are a key part of the education and training within the programmes at the School of Medicine, Medical Science and Nutrition. They assist in providing ‘real life’ learning opportunities where students can gain confidence and develop skills in a safe and simulated environment.
Patient Partners come from all walks of life and get involved in volunteering for a variety of reasons. Take Euan for example, who has been volunteering for the past nine years.
“I saw an article in a Retired Police Officers magazine regarding the volunteer patient programme and as I had had severe medical problems which involved several operations, I was extremely grateful to the NHS and its dedicated staff. In short, I had time on my hands and wanted to give something back.”
Our Patient Partners assist students in two main ways. One is in sessions on communication in which they role play a health scenario – no acting experience is required – to enable students to practise interviewing patients away from the hustle and bustle of a busy hospital ward. Patient Partners have a pre-prepared script which will cover symptoms, how they have been affecting the individual as well as a social and medical history.
The second is examination. Patient Partners pick which non-invasive examinations they are happy to be part of which may include the taking of a blood pressure, listening to a patient’s lungs or having joints examined or put through normal movements. Some volunteer patients take part in both communication and physical examination sessions.
Euan described what he gets out of volunteering. “I get an enormous sense of satisfaction and delight, knowing that the staff and students really appreciate what we do. I had a chance encounter in the Suttie Centre about four years ago with a graduate, who asked if I was a volunteer patient. When I replied yes, he said, thank you, you make a great difference to us!”
As well as providing vital support to the learning experience of our students, volunteer patients like Euan enjoy taking part.
Euan explained:” It is very sociable. The staff are friends, the other volunteers are all good company and you get to hear many different viewpoints as you share a cuppa prior to the teaching sessions. We learn a great deal from each other. The students are aged between the ages of my children and grandchildren so it is nice to interact with that age group. Some of the scenarios, whilst challenging, are great fun to take part in.”
If you, or someone you know, is interested in becoming a patient partner, do get in touch:
Patient Partner Programme, Clinical Skills Centre
The Suttie Centre for Teaching and Learning in Healthcare
University of Aberdeen
Foresterhill, Aberdeen, AB25 2ZD
Tel: 01224 437887
And you can find out more about what’s involved on our website.