Medical student Ryan Jones with Louise and Jim Malloy Photo by Jackson Smith/UVA Health System

During a training session at UVA’s School of Medicine last spring, medical student Ryan Jones (Col ’09, Med ’14) examined Jim Malloy, a “standardized patient.” Standardized, or simulated, patients have been trained to act as real patients for medical and nursing education purposes. Malloy, a retiree from Crozet, Va., has enacted a wide range of physical maladies over the years. That day, he was acting as a patient presenting symptoms of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), a type of aneurysm that can easily go undetected and can be fatal if it bursts.

While the session was meant to be a simulation, Jones reported that he both heard and felt the symptoms of an actual AAA. That information led the physician overseeing the session to suggest to Malloy that he schedule an appointment with a cardiologist.

Malloy made an appointment and learned that he did indeed have an AAA that was large enough to be of concern. He underwent stent placement surgery at the University of Virginia Medical Center in August and is now doing fine.

“It feels great to know that I made a difference,” Jones says. The future doctor is now interviewing for residency slots and plans to become a radiation oncologist.