George T. Harrell, Jr., M.D. , founding dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine, envisioned a student oriented educational program in a multidisciplinary health center. His goal of educating the health team to care for patients in their communities has timeless significance. He believed their education must be patient centered, always aware that patient care will forever be an art resting on a scientific base. This center is dedicated to continuing Dr. Harrell's vision.
Guided by Dr. Harrell's vision, the University of Florida College of Medicine created The Harrell Professional Development and Assessment Center to provide a suitable environment for learners to acquire the techniques and tools necessary for successful evaluation and treatment of patients.
The Harrell Center encompasses a suite of 16 patient examination rooms equipped to resemble outpatient clinic rooms, emergency cubicles, and hospital rooms. There are 16 adjacent computer carrels, two conference rooms, a reception area, and an audiovisual control center. The patient rooms, each equipped with two closed circuit, color video cameras and a microphone, are linked to the control center.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine the power of video. Think of its potential to communicate and motivate, to educate and inform. The state-of-the art, custom designed audiovisual system housed in the control room provides the ability to capture, record, display and replay important interactions. Eight monitoring stations, each capable of displaying video from up to four separate patient rooms at one time, are situated in the control room for observation and instruction.
To achieve quality audio recording, careful attention was given to obliterating the extraneous and sometimes unnoticed sounds in the normal environment. All rooms in the assessment center are sound isolated to eliminate distracting noise.
Direct observation into some of the patient rooms can be gained through a one-way window from the central hallway. One of the conference rooms doubles as an observation theater for group demonstrations, as one of the patient rooms can be directly observed from the conference room via a large one-way window. Viewers can also observe the student/patient interaction at one of the eight monitoring stations in the control room.
The Harrell Center houses an exciting, unique educational resource—the standardized patient program. Standardized patients are individuals trained to simulate signs and symptoms of specific ailments or who have stable, abnormal physical findings. Students or residents interact with a standardized patient just as they would with an actual patient to take a history, perform a physical exam, counsel and educate the patient, or negotiate a treatment plan. This encounter is monitored by video camera and/or observed through a one-way window. The interaction can also be recorded for later feedback. Small groups of six or more students and a teacher can work with standardized patient problems in tutorial sessions. Unlike real patients who may be too sick for repeated examinations, the standardized patient is readily available to reproduce the exact behaviors and symptoms of an illness over and over for self-paced learning or evaluation of students' clinical skills.