TheProfessional Development Laboratory(PDL) is a suite of eight fully functional patient examination rooms surrounding a secure central observation room. Faculty observe students in standardized and real patient encounters from the observation room using audiovisual equipment and one-way glass. The PDL is used throughout the curriculum (undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education) for teaching and assessment.
The PDL at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine was the first such facility. It was based on a single observed room Dr. Howard S. Barrows developed at the University of Southern California School of Medicine. At SIU, Barrows expanded the single room concept to a suite that can accommodate performance-based assessment of larger groups of students. SIU Medicine's Standardized Patient Program often uses the PDL in conjunction with an adjacent computer laboratory for the assessment of student clinical skills, from appropriately interacting with a patient, through obtaining information from the patient, through history and physical examination, and then applying that information to work-up diagnosis, and treat the patient.