Meet the NYC Actors Who Role-Play as Cancer Patients to Help Train Medical Students
Erin Cronican has sensitive feet—she tells the medical students this every time they try to test her Babinski reflex to make sure her nerves are working correctly. But without fail, they dig the edge of the reflex hammer into her foot like they’ve been trained, and they hurt her. “They are almost always mortified that they hurt somebody,” Cronican said, laughing. “But it’s the way they’ve been taught.” Cronican, an actor who founded the Actor’s Enterprise, regularly receives tests like the Babinski reflex during one of her side jobs as a standardized patient in various medical schools in New York City. This type of work is not a new concept—it’s been around since the 1960s, but over the past 10 years, it has been adopted as a standard requirement for most medical programs.
Although each program is focused on the communication aspect, they all have their own unique spin on standardized patient work. For instance, Mt. Sinai’s Ichan School of Medicine has the Art and Science of Medicine program. At New York Medical College, they call it human simulation.