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Extras for Healthcare Training – Case Study

Variety is the spice of life, and it is certainly true for actors. The range of projects in which they can be involved is vast, from plays, costumed characters to flash mobs, film extras and training films creating an extremely varied portfolio.

Very recently, some of the actors on our database worked with one of our healthcare clients to prepare a short series of role playing training films focusing on diabetes.

Diabetes affects over 4.6 million people within the UK, and numbers are constantly rising. It is a disease that can be controlled, but key to dealing with it is a rapid effective diagnosis. Unfortunately the symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can all too easily be mistaken for other illnesses. What makes it even harder is the fact that it is not always physical symptoms that are key to the diagnosis, but also the way patients talk about how they are feeling and reacting.

Making sure that GP’s, doctors and nurses are able to spot all the signs quickly is essential. Training is crucial so that they can identify potential clues both in terms of physical symptoms and patient comments during a consultation.

The Project

We worked with a healthcare provider to create some training films designed to deal with this problem.

Our client was very specific in terms of actor requirements. It had to be a male actor, aged 40 to 55, who could act out seven ‘real-life scenarios’ with a health care professional. During each two to three minute scenario, the actor had to subtly provide examples of good and bad communication, different responses and reactions. Each role play scenario was then used as part of educational training days, as well as being included within a training film for future use at conferences and training sessions.

So why was a professional actor needed for such short role plays?

An all too frequent problem of training videos is that they are poorly made, acted and scripted which means that important messages are lost. Using another healthcare professional to take on the role of a patient would not have worked.

A lot of skill was needed to make sure that not just the obvious message about physical symptoms but also all the little personal clues were provided. The sheer level of skill involved required a professional actor, someone who knew how to add hidden elements to any script, to make a scenario look as if it was happening in real life.

Equally important was the fact that the scenarios were going to be used in many different ways within the training provision. It was not something that was going to be used once and then ignored. The resultant material had be sufficiently versatile to be used in a variety of training styles – which means investing in employing a professional actor made all the difference.