One of my favorite jobs in Chicago was working as a Standardized Patient (SP) at Northwestern Hospital for the medical school. For those of you unfamiliar, many medical schools hire actors to be SPs in order for their students to practice their clinical and physical exam skills on actual people. Usually, we are given a case that has some specifics about our "condition" and our age, our occupation, family info. After we've memorized the case, learned the physical exam portion, and practice, we see the students.
I've worked on cases dealing with abdominal pain, fractured bones, hardening of the arteries, and chest pain among others. Following every encounter, we score the students on any number of checklist items that include things such as specific communication and physical exam skills, and we often comment on things such as their behavior/demeanor during the encounter and how it made us feel. In theory, this type of training and feedback will make the medical students more sensitive, understanding and communicative doctors.
I enjoyed it because I got to work with a lot of great people at Northwestern. It was also a good chance to practice my improvisation skills since the students would often ask obscure questions that strayed far from any information we had been given! Plus, I got to learn some medical jargon like coleocystitis and claudication. Out here in L.A. there are a couple big medical schools, one affiliated with USC and one with UCLA, and I'm trying to get with their SP programs. I've sent headshots and resumes, so hopefully they will call soon, so I can start wearing that comfy gown again STAT!