Training medical students to do a better job by using actors to play patients is not new. But at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, actors are faking dementia and Parkinson's disease to help family caregivers be more effective - and that's downright novel.
The Buddy Program, an initiative that pairs medical students with those in the early stages of Alzheimer's for social activities, not doctoring, is proving therapeutic for both sides. Students learn about dementia outside the classroom so it is demystified and humanized, while people with Alzheimer's get to act as mentors. The mentors not only have fun, but also feel that they are contributing to future physicians' understanding of a disease they will inevitably face with their patients.
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