School of Medicine students sometimes get a surprise when they hear one of their standardized patients describing his conditions. If the voice sounds familiar, it’s because it belongs to veteran broadcast journalist John Ogle, a frequently heard contributor on WCVE-FM.
Ogle joined the cast of the School of Medicine’s Standardized Patient Program in 2013, inspired after recording a news story on the program for the Richmond-based radio station.
“I’ve interviewed a lot of researchers at VCU, but I didn’t know what to expect when I went there to do the story,” said Ogle. “We went through the new McGlothlin Medical Education Center building, seeing one amazing thing after another.”
One program in particular caught his attention.
Medical students in the Center for Human Simulation and Patient Safety were working with standardized patients, learning to diagnose various conditions and to develop physician-patient relationships. The Standardized Patient Program, a collaboration between VCU’s School of Medicine and School of the Arts, allows students a chance to conduct a physicians’ traditional interview, history and physical. For the actors who play the parts of patients, it’s a chance for paid work and, more importantly, a chance to help the next generation of physicians.
After he completed his story about the program, Ogle decided to try to be part of the news-making program himself, so he applied to be a standardized patient. After several training sessions, he joined the program and now fits in sessions around his journalism schedule. He’s learned a lot about medicine as he’s portrayed a variety of patients.
“I’ve been the chest pain guy. I’ve been the spitting up blood guy. It’s really interesting work,” said Ogle.
“It’s fascinating to work with M1s who are young, and then the M4s who are about to be doctors – and they really do look like and act like them. There’s a certain demeanor they gain over the years. They’re very committed and focused on what they’ve chosen to do.
“The students are often thanking standardized patients for doing this” Ogle said. “But I’m finding that it’s rewarding for me, too. The quality of the work that’s done to get these students to be doctors is a reward I didn’t expect.”
Ogle, 70, considered a career as an actor when he was younger, and is enjoying being back on stage – even if the stage now is an examination room. “It’s a little bit like doing the news. The only difference is that I don’t have to memorize the news. But when you get to be my age, a lot of these ailments are familiar anyway.”
It’s also fun when the occasional student recognizes his name and voice. “It’s pointless to deny it. A lot of the students do happen to be public radio listeners.”
– By Lisa Crutchfield