Monday, April 28, 2014

The Professional Patient

A few years ago I wrote a post about Chesterton's playful book, The Club of Queer Trades. Each member of this elite society earns his position by inventing a completely new way of making a living. As I said then, this marks the book as somewhat dated. Today, new trades are being invented all the time.

Still I was charmed to recently come across one that was new to me. Danielle came across it almost by chance but found she had a knack for it and now gets as much business as she can handle.

She works as a pretend patient for medical students in training, especially nurses. It's quite the thing, now, a way to train tomorrow's medical professionals in a realistic but sheltered environment, practicing things they might not have the chance to practice or experience with real patients... at least not without doing harm.

One day she's vague and quiet; another she may keep trying to get up and escape. She's part model, part actress, and does her best to display the prescribed symptoms that the students might demonstrate they know the appropriate responses and treatments. Sometimes she's paid to spend the whole day in bed in her pajamas - but "on stage" in a simulated hospital room. The week we met she was preparing to be a kidney patient who was a conservative Muslim and spoke only Arabic.

Would you want to work as a simulated patient?

I didn't ask how much this job asks her to lay herself bare or accept embarrassing intrusions.

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