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HIS program uses actors to help train students

The older gentleman sat quietly on a chair as an OTC student began probing in his ears.

The man, known as Jerry, was a patient in the Hearing Instrument Science lab at OTC for an examination after he suddenly had pain in his ear after dental surgery.

The student, Sarah Woods of Springfield, was examining him for any hearing damage done as a result of the operation.

But Jerry wasn’t really Jerry. Jerry is Jim Slaughter, a local actor, hired to present hearing medical issues to OTC students training in the HIS field.

The scenarios the actors present are based on real life, said Larry Brethower, OTC’s director of Hearing Instrument Science.

Michelle Howard, college director of OTCs simulation center, said actors of various ages are given scenarios and symptoms in a script that they go over and use when students examine them.

“We realize the value for students when we provide them with patients in a clinical setting that can take place throughout the day. That way, they are more prepared and familiar with the equipment when they are employed,” she said.

“We threw out a wide net in the community looking for actors, including our own faculty and college theater programs, she said, adding that they are paid a small part-time hourly amount for their time.”

In addition to using live actors, Howard’s corps of manikins is put to use for students to practice more evasive procedures that could be an issue for actors.

“The manikin encounters are for procedures that could be dangerous but we still want the student to experience it,” Brethower said.

The manikin can be programmed to talk to the student during a procedure.

“Oh, what are you doing?” one asked a student. “Why are you doing both ears?”

Students are observed by the instructor on how they do with the live actors and the manikins. A debriefing is later held so students receive feedback.

Brethower and Howard are collaborating on a paper about the work they are doing with actors and manikins for publication soon in Hearing Review magazine. Their unique approach may be the only one of its kind in the region.

“The idea makes use of the great facility we have here with the use of the manikins and the actors for the benefit of preparing students for real-life situations,” Howard said.


Mark Miller

Phone: 417.447.2655


Steve Koehler

Coordinator of Publications

Phone: (417) 447-2666


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