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Standardized Performance Assessment Laboratory

Osteopathic medicine students gain relevant, hands-on experience in the Standardized Performance Assessment Laboratory (SPAL).

SPAL uses simulated patients who are trained and compensated to play the role of actual patients. These patients give students the opportunity to practice communication skills and be assessed on their clinical skills in a controlled environment.

SPAL lets faculty assess students’ skills, attitudes and provider/patient relationships in a real-world setting.

Patient encounters

First-year D.O. students have four SPAL practicals, second-year D.O. students have ten SPAL practicals and third-year D.O. students have a clinical skills evaluation.

SPAL facility

  • Student with SPAL patient12 clinical examination rooms – each equipped with a digital audio/video camera, intercom system, one-way glass for observation and two computers for faculty and SPs to complete evaluations
  • Control room – where all 12 rooms are timed, monitored and video captured
  • Rooms for post-encounter documentation and debriefing
  • Video streaming – allows students to view and critique their own encounters online while on campus
  • More than 80 standardized patients
  • More than 100 developed cases and about 5,000 student/patient encounters a year

Learn more about SPAL

How does SPAL benefit students?

I greatly appreciate this experience. My skills were definitely enhanced, and I am confident they will be helpful in the clinical years. I do not know of any other experience that would have better prepared me for the next two years. The SPAL lab is one of the most valuable pieces of my medical education. It allowed me to put into practice the things I have read in texts and seen in shadowing experiences. Thank you so much for all of your hard work.

I am completely satisfied with the quality of this program and how it has prepared me for rotations. This is a model to all physical diagnosis programs. Thank you to all those who made this experience possible. Excellent learning tool. I hope this will be carried on into the future.