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Workshop Information

Photo by Anthony DeCarlo
Breaking Difficult News
A student practices delivering difficult news to a standardized patient.

Workshops with standardized patients are typically conducted in small breakout groups of students guided by a faculty facilitator. Each student interviews a different SP while the others observe. Discussions occur during “time outs” and during a debriefing session. The SPs describe common symptoms such as cough, dizziness and chest pain. In other sessions, topics include breaking bad news and shared decision-making.

Occasionally, SPs participate in demonstration interviews in front of the class in a lecture format to introduce or reinforce skills.

Other workshops include those associated with Yale-New Haven Hospital, the Yale Physician Associate Program and the Yale School of Nursing.

About Our Scripts

Most of the SP actors portray a single character who seeks care for multiple illnesses occurring separately at different times and locations in the medical school curriculum. For example, one actor portrays a retired teacher who sees first-year medical students for abdominal pain in the fall and leg pain in the spring. She also sees third-year students during their medicine clerkship in a Breaking Difficult News session for bruising due to acute leukemia. Her character remains the same but her symptoms vary. Each case is represented by a script that provides the actor with detailed information about his or her illness and character.