Talking to mannequins

by Dr Benjamin Cheah @techeah

mannequinMany medical students can probably remember walking into the examination room and confronted with a mannequin, in which they are to “pretend” is a real patient. Many students do not know how to deal with this “awkward” situation although they have been primed prior.

Some have attempted to start a conversation and foolishly talk to themselves. Some would even elaborate on the fact that “he” is not responding when being asked a question. One example even requested that the patient re-position “himself” and then commented that “he” can’t move. It would make good comedy. Duh! It is a mannequin! Mannequins do not talk or move.

So there must be some guide out there to help students talk to mannequins and the mannerisms to be maintained so as not to look foolish. One can still perform great despite a “non-responsive” mannequin.

I have some tips here and hope to add and develop this article more as readers may chip in greater ideas on tackling this “problem”.

1. Avoid questions that necessitate a response.

Avoid : ” How are you today?”
Instead : I hope you are well today.

2. Avoid pretending that there is a response from the mannequin. That would look really silly.

3. Talk as if you are giving a presentation to an audience, where you are not expecting an immediate response. Pretending to be part of a usual conversation may get one sucked into an awkward situation

4. Do a running commentary if you are allowed to. This makes it less awkward as you are explaining your moves and talking to the “examiner” who hopefully is awake and alive!

5. Never keep silent! Some would not even talk thinking that it is not alive. This does not impress examiners and you may just come across as mentally unstable and unfriendly

6. Please practice on a mannequin before your exams and have your friends comment. There will be lots of chuckles, but soon you will find your comfort zone with these plastic beings.

There you have it. Some tips. I would welcome more should you want to contribute and add them to this article!