4 W's of being a Standardized Patient

Standardized Patient (SP):

A person who has been trained to accurately portray a specific patient role, assess clinical skills, and provide constructive verbal feedback on a student's performance.

Why are Standardized Patients used in the Medical School?

SPs exercises are used throughout the student's four years of medical school and begin as early as two weeks into the student's first year. At this point, the students have not acquired the necessary skills and medical knowledge to interact with actual patients. Through the use of SPs, actual patient care is never in jeopardy. Standardized Patients give each student a standardized experience and therefore,the variability of interacting with "real patients" is removed. The utilization of SPs give faculty a reliable measurement of the student's performance during patient interactions throughout the course of medical school.

When is a Standardized Patient best utilized?

SPs are most effective when used to measure the following:

  • History-taking and interviewing skills
  • Physical examination skills
  • Communication skills
  • Patient education skills
  • Interpersonal skills

What happens in a typical SP exercise?

The student begins the exercise by interviewing the SP for 15-30 minutes. Then the SP "breaks role" and both the student and the SP complete evaluation forms. Once the evaluations have been completed, the SP provides the student with immediate verbal feedback based on their performance.

Who are our Standardized Patients?

Our SPs come from all walks of life and are between 18-80 years of age. Many have backgrounds in education, social work, or some medical profession, but all must possess excellent communication skills. A flexible schedule, transportation, and punctuality are also necessary. While SPs are paid for training and working with students, most SPs find that their motivation to become part of the Standardized Patient Program comes from a desire to assist in the training of excellent physicians.