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Julie’s a model patient

Retirement Living Health Positive Ageing Retirement Stories Volunteer
  • IRT Greenwell Gardens resident Julie Luke is a simulated patient
  • Some 90 volunteers are attached to the Shoalhaven campus of UOW’s School of Medicine
  • Volunteers read a sheet of symptoms and play the role of a patient
  • Opportunity for learning is created
Julie Luke - Simulated medical patient

A casual conversation led to IRT Greenwell Gardens resident Julie Luke signing up to become a simulated patient.

"When I moved into Greenwell Gardens I met Judy Young and she told me she was a simulated patient. I thought it sounded really interesting so she put me in touch with UOW and it went from there"
Julie Luke
IRT Greenwell Gardens Resident

When IRT Greenwell Gardens resident Julie Luke started volunteering as a simulated patient for medical students she had no idea how much she’d end up learning.

The former teacher’s aide was looking for something to challenge her and a casual conversation with a fellow resident immediately sparked her interest.

“When I moved into Greenwell Gardens I met Judy Young and she told me she was a simulated patient. I thought it sounded really interesting so she put me in touch with UOW and it went from there,” she says.

Julie joined the pool of about 90 volunteers attached to the Shoalhaven campus of UOW’s School of Medicine.

She gets sent instructions outlining her condition and symptoms and then has to play the role of a patient while medical students assess her. They learn how to interact with their ‘patient’ and how to gather information including symptoms, family history, medications and lifestyle factors.

Sometimes they perform basic physical examinations, checking heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels.

Julie has also played the role of a patient for student nurses sitting their final exams.

She reckons she gets more out of the volunteering than she gives.

“I love it. I love the people you meet and working with young people is magic, it’s really fulfilling,” she says. “I’ve always worked with children, being a teacher’s aide, and then I mentored high school students, so this was the next logical step I suppose – uni students!”

Julie loves watching how the students develop as they progress from first to second year.

“They start out tentative and nervous, naturally, but over time they become more confident,” she says.

“It’s just that feeling that I’m doing something useful. I’m helping them to become a better doctor, an empathetic, well trained doctor.”

She’s also learnt more than she could have imagined.

“It involves acting really because you become that person. You have to stay in character and you can’t ad lib,” she explains.

“When I got my first scenario and it was two foolscap pages I thought I’ll never remember this. It’s very in-depth and you’ve got to memorise it all.”

Being a simulated patient has prompted Julie to learn more about the body.

“I’m reading up on the heart and the muscles, brain and other things. It’s very interesting and I love the challenge.

“It’s really important to stay engaged. The more the better, I say. I really enjoy what I’m doing.”

If you’re independent, mobile and interested in being a volunteer simulated patient, you can contact Judy Hayes (Shoalhaven) on 4429 1506 or Shawn Tyler (Wollongong) on 4221 5627.

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