Acting as a Simulated Patient and Roleplayer – Marie Cooper

Working Actor: Roleplaying as a Simulated Patient

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Actors often work as roleplayers in academic, medical and corporate organisations to help faciliate the learning of good communication skills.  Organisations need people who can improvise, react authentically to the situation, use verbal and non-verbal cues,  and feedback constructively on how the situation felt to them as their ‘character’

Roleplay provides a realistic, safe and supportive learning environment in which to experiment with different ways to approach situations. It allows people to try different communication styles and body language, to get feedback from trainers and peers, to take risks, but without having to do so in the real workplace environment.

In roleplay an actor can recreate a potential workplace problem or challenge, such as an upset or angry customer or patient. It provides employees or students with an opportunity to practice how their commuication style and behaviour affects the interaction. How the roleplayer reacts to participants can be discussed beforehand so that a range of challenges, at varying degrees of difficulty can be practiced in a safe environment.

In medical roleplay specifically an actor takes on the role of a ‘Simulated Patient’ with their pain, history, emotion and worries. They are used in the classroom environment for training and also in examinations providing students with a means of practically demonstrating the skills they have gained during their studies.

I have been working in Roleplay for a year now and it is challenging, but highly rewarding, work for an actor. Not just in supplementing income when running a portfolio career, but also in feedback from staff and students on how valuable you are to their training. The skills that you bring as an actor, make a real difference in helping future professionals become better at what they do.

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