Context Recruiting the right candidate for a position within healthcare is vitally important for patients, relatives, staff and organisations. Traditionally, the recruitment process is about the application, references and interview. At University Hospital Southampton (UHS), the therapy department challenged whether skills in communicating with users really can be ascertained from these three parts of the process.
Simulated patients (SPs) are a ‘valuable resource for teaching and assessing communication skills’.1 Therefore, since the ability of the candidate to be able to communicate skilfully to patients and relatives is critical, SPs could help in the interview assessment.
Methodology For eighteen months, a simulated patient/relative (simulator) has become an integral part of the interview. Trained in ‘simulator interview skills’, they play a role within the interview, dependent on the specialty of the therapist and seniority of the position.
Examples of roles:
A relative with questions about discharge advice
A patient who is becoming increasingly immobile
A distressed relative/patient unhappy about treatment plan
The scenario, runs for 8–10 min, the candidate leaves and the interview panel receive objective feedback from the unique perspective of the simulator.
Outcomes We are able to assess a candidate’s ability to respond appropriately to the simulator and demonstrate initiative. All involved are able to assess: jargon free eloquence, listening skills, verbal and non-verbal skills, knowledge base, use of open, closed and reflective questions and response to cues. The simulator specifically is able to feedback on empathy, clarity of explanation and motivational interviewing skills (if relevant).
Potential impact We believe that we have, over the last eighteen months recruited more effectively with enhanced objectivity. Our aim is to work closely with HR so that simulators are routinely used within interviews, across specialties and disciplines, up to executive level, so that the right candidate is selected for the job.
Cleland JA, Abe K, Rethans J. The use of simulated patients in medical education. Medical Education 2009;31:477–486
- Category: Course or curriculum evaluation/innovation/integration
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