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  • Standardized Patient Profiles

    Jenson Kerr

    How did you learn about the IMP?

    Through a friend of mine, actually, a fellow actor. He had been a Standardized Patient for the IMP, but a case came up that he couldn’t do, and he needed someone to fill in for him. So he asked me. I loved the experience – not only did it pay well (it’s rare to get paid as an actor, so that was nice), but the work itself was interesting. I was immediately hooked, and five years later, I’m still involved.

    jkWhat’s the experience like as a Standardized Patient?

    It all depends on the case. Some of them are straight-forward: I’ll sit there, and the students, under the supervision of the physician, will poke and prod me. But some, usually the mental health cases, can be incredibly complex. I’ll have to memorize a ten-page script, including a timeline of events – and recall all of this while staying in character.

    It’s interesting how intense the sessions can get. I’ll be outside the room getting ready, and the students and preceptor inside are talking, sometimes laughing. Then I’ll walk in – and the mood shifts completely. Everyone takes it seriously, to the point where it can get quite emotional. I’ve played domestic abuse victims, for example, and by the end, I’ll be crying, the students are crying. It gets pretty real.

    After the session, I’ll leave and the preceptor will talk with the students. After particularly long clinical sessions, such as those focused on communication and relationship development skills, we all go for lunch. I’ll get feedback, I’ll learn how the sessions went for the students, how they were affected by the performance. And that’s really rewarding, to see that I’m making a positive difference in their training.

    What’s your perspective on the medical students taking part?

    I find it interesting to see how the students advance. In their first year, students can be incredibly nervous, and they’ll miss some key points. Everyone is pretty solid by fourth year, though some can be overconfident. They might ask all the right questions, but then they won’t connect as well with me; they won’t build the rapport, which is very important. All of that is okay – it’s part of the learning process.

    Have you found the standardized patient experience valuable to you as an actor?

    Absolutely. The standardization aspect, especially, is the best part. In film and TV, you’ll do the same take over and over again, and each time you have to be in character; you have to be consistent. As a standardized patient, it’s critical that you give the same performance, especially during the student exams. The sessions have helped me hone the skill of consistency, for sure.

    What’s your ideal movie role?

    I actually like theatre more, which I was trained in. It’s more fun, the live aspect of it. But a lot of superhero movies are happening in Vancouver. And I’d like to be part of something like that, something with lots of special effects and stunts. Something like Arrow, especially as a villain, would be fun. But the dream scenario, for me, would be to land a role in something like Stranger Things, which I loved.