Professional model-actresses are playing the roles of neurological patients as part of a unique educational technique in use at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles.
The girls, called "programmed patients" by the developers of the technique, learn to imitate the signs and symptoms of various neurological disorders. They then become a living source of both training and testing for junior medical students who spend 25 days on the neurological service.
In addition to the routine of seeing regular patients, the students are twice asked to conduct a neurological examination of a programmed patient. The first examination takes place about a week after the student joins the service, and is designed as a training experience. The second examination comes at the end of the clerkship, and provides a measure of skills used in history-taking, physical examination, diagnosis, and patient management.
The student submits the usual formal write-up