Clinical Skills Assessment Program

Contact Information

Clinical Skills Assessment Program
UConn Health
263 Farmington Avenue
Farmington, CT 06030-2824
Phone:  860-679-4768
Fax: 860-679-1683

Sandy Scippa, M.D.

Lavern Wright, M.D.
Assistant Medical Director

Teresa Sapieha-Yanchak, M.A.
Academic Curriculum Coordinator

Stacey Fostervold
Administrative Program Coordinator

Diane Stone
Patient Instructor Trainer

Rosalinda Pavano Hunt
Administrative Program Assistant II

Christine DeGirolamo
Administrative Program Assistant II

The Clinical Skills Assessment Program allows learners to learn and practice clinical skills with simulated patients (standardized patient instructors). Our facility has 16-patient exam rooms fully equipped to simulate a true medical office experience.

Learners and patient instructors simulate an authentic clinical encounter. After each encounter, the patient instructor (PI) provides feedback to the learner on their communication, history taking, counseling and/or physical examination skills. This is an opportunity for the learner to fine tune their professional skills, to gain self-confidence and be better able to gain the confidence of their patients. The facility is equipped with a computer network for recording the encounters. These recordings can be reviewed by learners, faculty and PIs with the goal of performance assessment and improvement.

The Clinical Skills Assessment Program is integral to the medical school curriculum, ensuring the opportunity in each curricular year for experiential, hands on learning to enrich the learner’s educational experience. The program provides its services across the continuum to UConn medical and dental students, residents and fellows, and practitioners. In addition, the program provides services to various internal and external clients.

Information for Learners

How to Prepare

  • Review MIRS video and information found on HuskyCT. Review Clinical Skills demo videos on Master Interview Rating Scale (MIRS) and Physical Exam as made available to you by your program.
  • Review orientation video.
    • PE Video
    • Communication Video
  • Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled start time unless otherwise notified by course.
  • There is no talking between encounters in the hallway.
  • Printed material (books, charts, references), laptop/iPad, cell phones, pagers are not permitted while taking exams.
  • Appropriate dress includes your white coat, badge, and stethoscope.
  • Fingernails should be trimmed short for patient comfort.


The Clinical Skills Assessment Program is located on the UConn Health Farmington campus on the ground floor. Included in the space is a reception area for learners with a seating area. There are four administrative offices with general office equipment and computers. Also included in the space is a conference room for orientation and debriefing; lockers and two gender neutral, handicap accessible bathrooms.

Sixteen exam rooms are each equipped with a hospital bed, desk and computer for Patient Instructor data entry, sink or alcohol hand wash, and routine exam room supplies such as a B/P cuff, otoscope and ophthalmoscope. One exam room and hallway computer are handicap accessible.

All of the rooms contain a camera and microphone. The hallways are also equipped with computers and cameras.

There is also an observation room for viewing of Clinical Skills activities.

Data and Videos

The learner’s clinical skills videos are maintained in a database for a specified period of time enabling them to observe their performance and improvement over time. Faculty members may review these videotapes to provide feedback to the learner.

Medical Education Services

  • Sessions for learners to practice clinical skills with coaching from Patient Instructors and/or faculty.
  • Opportunity to interpret abnormal findings simulated by Patient Instructor and/or with mechanical devices.
  • Demonstrate clinical reasoning or data interpretation on Post Encounter Notes.
  • Practice behavior counseling (e.g., smoking cessation) and communication challenges (e.g., negotiating prescriptions for antibiotics, discussing medical errors, giving bad news or use if interpreters).
  • Formal assessments with digital recording, data reports and analysis.

Sensitive Exams

Patient Instructor Models are male and female Patient Instructors who are specifically trained to guide learners and provide feedback about accurate pelvic, rectal and/or breast examination techniques. They also address the communication skills needed to provide a comfortable exam in a standardized manner, while using their bodies as teaching tools in a supportive, non-threatening environment. Exams are instructed by a clinician.

Information for Patient Instructors

What Is a Patient Instructor (PI)?

A Patient Instructor, or PI, is a layperson trained to simulate a clinical encounter consistently and realistically. The skills that are taught and/or evaluated with Patient Instructors include interpersonal, communication, history-taking, and/or physical examination techniques. Patient Instructors provide the medical student an opportunity to fine-tune professional skills, to gain self-confidence and be better able to gain the confidence of their patients. The student learns to become patient-oriented, more aware of patient feelings and concerns, and most of all, to become an active listener. The ability to listen and understand and communicate this understanding is a skill of significant benefit to medical students, and Patient Instructors play a central role in this process.

Patient Instructors are employees and members of the community or surrounding area who come from all walks of life and share the enjoyment of being able to participate in medical education activities.


Patient Instructors provide learners with feedback on techniques of interviewing, physical examination techniques, and communication skills. Feedback is one of the most important skills of the Patient Instructors:

  • A major advantage of using simulation rather than a real situation is the opportunity for learners to receive immediate feedback from a trained person on how their approaches and skills may affect a patient/person.
  • Feedback is given at the end of a session and may be verbal, written or both.
  • Feedback will help the learner(s) improve their skills and increase awareness of their behaviors and reinforce or modify these as indicated to optimize patient care and satisfaction.

Program Facility

  • 15 patient exam rooms fully equipped to simulate a true medical office experience.
  • Each patient room has digital capture capabilities with a microphone, allowing for patient encounters to be uploaded to the internet. This technology allows students to review their encounters in order to self-evaluate and improve their skills.
  • Observation/Inter-Rater Room.
  • Classroom/Conference room with audio/visual recording and streaming technology.
  • Task trainer/procedural device room (sim).
  • A web-based center management system for scheduling, recording, reporting and statistical analysis of learner performances.
  • Staff of 5 FTE.
  • 72 Patient Instructors.

How to Apply to Be a Patient Instructor

The Clinical Skills Assessment Program assists students as they learn bedside manners and the skills of taking a medical history, doing a physical examination, and communicating with patients. It relies on individuals trained to portray a medical problem and then evaluate students as they encounter the situation. The people who do this work are called Patient Instructors (PIs). We are recruiting individuals who have the interest and skills to work effectively with student doctors in this role.

Patient Instructors work part-time from one-half day to four half days a week. During a half-day they see 4 to 8 students, portray the case for each one, score the students’ performance, and then usually give the students feedback. They are carefully trained before they begin working with students and must be accurate in portraying the case and scoring the students. They are also trained to give feedback to students on the content and process of their work.

We employ people of all ages who can make a commitment to working with students on specific programs. Individuals with medical problems and those with none are equally welcome. At times, the Patient Instructors own experience is used as the basis for a case, but most are authored by faculty and then matched to the age and sex of the potential Patient Instructor.

Please complete the patient instructor application and return it to the address on that paper. We will contact you when we are conducting interviews for specific programs.

Apply Here