Completed in March of 1977, the Clinical Skills Center is the oldest of its kind in North America. Located in the Margaret McCormick Doisy Learning Resources Center (LRC) adjacent to the School of Medicine and across the street from the Saint Louis University Hospital, the Center is used for the teaching and assessment of clinical skills such as history taking and physical examination. In addition to over 2,000 square feet of space for the practice of clinical procedures such as venipuncture and lumbar puncture, the Clinical Skills Center contains seven examination rooms complete with exam table, sink, oto-ophthalmoscope, sphygmomanometer, and other examination equipment. Two monitoring rooms provide direct visualization via video cameras, VCRs and microphones.
The Clinical Skills Center utilizes standardized patients for teaching and assessment. Standardized patients (SPs) are individuals trained to teach and assess clinical skills from the patient's perspective, giving good advice about ways to approach patients in a sensitive and compassionate manner. Using standardized patients does not replace work done with real patients during the preclinical years, but rather enhances students' skills and comfort in the clinical setting. Difficult situations such as discussing life support and dealing with angry patients can be practiced with SPs prior to confronting these situations in "real life."