There is nothing typical about the doctor's office waiting room at Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine -- not the doctors or the patients.

They're first year medical students in Grand Rapids using simulated patients to diagnose medical conditions.

"We're well prepared to handle whatever the students come up with," said Kathy Dekraker. She has been a simulated patient at MSU for about two years. "There were some weeks I was here every two and a half days for probably a couple of months.

"We're well prepared to handle whatever the students come up with."

Prior to her doctor's visit, Kathy is given a case study to learn what condition she has. From there it's up to the medical student to give a diagnosis.

Kathy loves the job's flexibility, "You get an email and 'oh I can do this day I can do these hours, oh I don't want to do that one,' so you set your own schedule."

The pay gives her family a little bit of financial freedom.

"When I first started [I said] we're going to put this in the bank account and this will be our vacation or our fun money," she said. Fun money that puts a whole new meaning to the term sick day.

The hourly rate starts at $12 and could be more, depending on what they need you for and how long it will take.

MSU is holding an informational meeting for anyone interested in becoming a simulated patient on May 10 from 10 a.m. until noon at MSU College of Human Medicine Secchia Center.

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