The teaching spectrum

At EVMS, young and old teach tomorrow's health professionals

At first glance, 10-year-old Nicholas Petrie and 88-year-old Loyce Jarvis couldn’t have less in common.

He loves playing video games with his sister. She loves talking with her friends over tea. He’s a fast talking fourth-grader with a baby face. She’s a gray-haired grandmother who sometimes points her cane for emphasis.

But the 78-year span between the unlikely pair vanishes when they sit together to talk about their jobs. As the youngest and oldest of the 111 standardized patients (SPs) working in the EVMS Sentara Center for Simulation and Immersive Learning, Nicholas and Ms. Jarvis help train the next generation of medical and health professionals.

 web exclusive

"It's about helping people to be great at their jobs."

Nicholas Petrie
  • Nicholas often portrays a child visiting the doctor for a well checkup. This case is done with a dad (another SP) present, so students and residents can practice how to talk to parents about their child’s health and well-being.

  • His most popular simulation is aptly named “The Nicholas Case.” It involves a young boy eager to join the baseball team. Students and residents must perform a full physical.

  • His secret? Seeing how nervous the students are helps to calm his nerves. “It makes it easier to play my role and to give them feedback about how they are doing,” Nicholas says.

  • His classmates don’t always believe that he has a job at the medical school and ask for video proof.

  • “It’s not about the paycheck,” he says. “It’s about helping people to be great at their jobs.”

 web exclusive

 web exclusive

"I love watching our students learn and grow into doctors."

Loyce Jarvis
  • She is best known for portraying a mean and obstinate patient who is difficult to work with. “I’ve been told I do cranky really well,” Ms. Jarvis says.

  • Her favorite case requires students and residents to talk to her about sexual activity as a senior citizen. “It’s a struggle not to laugh out loud when you see how nervous they are to even ask me about it,” she says.

  • Her secret? She never plays someone her own age. “I always tell them I’m in my 60s,” she says, “because if it’s acting, why not?”

  • Her friends find her job fascinating, and a few have considered applying as a standardized patient.

  • “I love watching our students learn and grow into doctors,” Ms. Jarvis says. “It is very rewarding.”