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March 1, 2012

SIU Med Students Participate in Mock Legal Deposition

Medical students experienced a unique simulated legal deposition exercise on February 29 at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.

As part of their training, fourth-year students enrolled in the medical humanities clerkship 'The Physician and Society' role-played a physician who testified for one of their patients in a mock legal proceeding. The students received subpoenas to appear in court and testify on behalf of a patient they had previously treated. They were questioned under oath by local attorneys who represented both the prosecution and defense for the case.  

“Participating in depositions as part of legal proceedings is often required of practicing physicians, but medical students rarely have the opportunity to experience it in a low-stakes setting, so this exercise helps prepare the students for a different aspect of life after graduation,” said Ross Silverman, J.D., professor and chair of medical humanities at SIU. 

Fourth-year medical student Matthew Albrecht said the experience was helpful. “Going through the process of being questioned by an attorney about a case will prove to be beneficial when I become a practicing physician. Also it helped me realize the importance of thoroughly documenting each case.”

The simulated deposition exercise was developed by Silverman; Kelly Armstrong, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical humanities and director of clinical ethics and public policy; Dr. Susan Hingle, associate professor of internal medicine; and Jo Powers, curriculum coordinator in medical humanities; all at SIU; and Peggy Ryan, a Springfield attorney.

Established in 1970, SIU School of Medicine’s mission is to assist the people of central and southern Illinois in meeting their health-care needs through education, patient care, research and service to the community.  Its website is and its main number is 217-545-8000.