Margaret L. Wendt Foundation Clinical Competency Center

Trainees and faculty in the center.

Medical students learn patient examination procedures with a standardized patient. Supervising is John Gillespie, MD, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine.

Our dedicated clinical competency center prepares medical students for national competency exams with real-world interactive scenarios featuring standardized patients.

Intensive Clinical Preparation

In this center’s 18 exam rooms, our medical students practice taking patient histories, performing physical exams, communicating disease management and treatment options, and discussing the diagnosis of terminal illnesses. To build their interpersonal and examination skills, medical students work with standardized patients—individuals trained to simulate real patients with specific conditions. This also prepares them to pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE).

“The clinical competency training at UB is one of the gems of the school,” says Troy Pittman, MD ’06. “Staff in the Clinical Competency Center put together an experience that mimics the actual exam closely.”

Learning in the Long Term

Digital audio and video systems in each room transmit live feeds to faculty and staff in monitoring rooms. Faculty and staff can operate the cameras to change the angle and zoom, and record each session. Even the otoscopes have cameras embedded in them to capture video of what students see in the ear, nose and throat as they perform an exam.

This sophisticated, comprehensive learning system helps students immerse themselves in the clinical role. Later, they review their performance with feedback from faculty, cultivating self-reflective abilities that not only give them an edge during medical school but support continued improvement in their communication skills in the long term.

Real-World Cases

Working with Karen L. Zinnerstrom, PhD, who coordinates the standardized patient program, faculty write case scenarios to develop and test students’ professional skills. Recording these standardized interactions generates a consistent measure of students’ abilities and improvement over time. Many of our departments, including surgery, family medicine, medicine, orthopaedics and psychiatry, train residents as well as MD students in the Clinical Competency Center.


Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
955 Main Street, Suite 6101
Buffalo, NY 14203

Contact Information

Administrative Director

Karen Zinnerstrom, PhD.

Karen Zinnerstrom, PhD

Administrative Director, Clinical Competency and Behling Human Simulation Centers

Office of Medical Education

955 Main Street Room, 6101K, Buffalo, NY 14203-1121

Phone: (716) 829-3455; Fax: (716) 829-2798


Educator and Administrator

Kern, Sherrie.

Sherrie Kern

Educator and Administrator

Clinical Competency Center

955 Main Street, Suite 6101, Room A, Buffalo, NY 14203-1121

Phone: Office: 716-829-3455


Administrative Simulations Technician

Connor Grabowski.

Connor Grabowski

Administrative Simulations Technician

955 Main Street, Suite 6101, Buffalo NY 14203-1121