Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Standardized Patient?

A Standardized Patient (SP) is an individual trained to portray a specific patient case in a consistent manner. During an interaction with a student, the SP presents the case history in response to questioning by the student and/or undergoes physical examinations at the student's direction. Each SP encounter is designed to assess skills appropriate to both the SP's and the student's level of training.

When do SPs typically work?

Activities that involve the scheduling of SPs typically take place during weekdays, Monday-Friday, between 7a-6p.

How is this different from acting?

This work has nothing to do with finding dramatic moments or playing to an audience. It has everything to do with disciplining yourself within the needs of the case and exam. It may be appropriate for you to appear anxious, irritable, or confused during an interview if that is part of the training scenario. When working as an SP, it is important that you portray the case exactly the same way for every student who interviews you.

Do the medical students know we are not real patients?

Yes, the students are aware that you are SPs and are told to proceed just as they would with real patients while doing interviews and physical examinations.

Why do you need Standardized Patients? I thought medical students learned on real patients?

U of M students do work with real patients in supervised clinical experiences. However, SPs provide a safe and controlled learning environment in preparation for a real patient encounter. A large number of students can consecutively interview an SP and each time the SP can behave as though it were the first time in the clinic for the same complaint. Thus, every student gets the chance to demonstrate his/her clinical skills in the same situation. SP exercises provide a fair exam and learning experience for each student.

How do I know what to say when the medical student interviews me?

You will be carefully trained to portray a specific patient. You will learn the complete medical history. As the patient, you will be trained to tell the student details about your life such as your work, family, and hobbies. SP training also involves details about the patient's emotional state. For cases requiring a physical exam you will know how to move as that patient would and also simulate findings while being examined. You will also be trained to give feedback after being interviewed or examined, allowing the student to hear constructive feedback from the patient he/she just interviewed or examined.

Will I undergo a physical exam or have to remove my clothing?

For patient cases that require no physical examination, SPs wear street clothes. If students are expected to perform a physical examination, SPs wear a hospital gown. Most cases require a physical examination; this is clearly outlined for SPs prior to their agreement to participate.

Is it safe?

The examinations are very basic and do not cause any harm to the patient. All encounters are videotaped and most interactions are observed as they happen, in part for the safety and comfort of the SP.

Do I have to decide whether or not the student passes?

No. Part of your job as an SP is to record the events of the encounters on a checklist for the purpose of scoring the students. You may also be asked to lead a verbal debriefing session with the student about their experience and/or provide written feedback to the students on their interpersonal skills from your perspective as the patient. Faculty ultimately decides whether or not the student passed the exercise.

Being an SP sounds easy. Can anyone do it?

Being an SP is hard work! Here is a list of expectations for our SPs:

  • Be comfortable with medical issues and dealing with health professionals.
  • Be willing to be videotaped for educational purposes.
  • Free of biases based on gender, race, religion, national origin, physical characteristics, etc.
  • Be reliable and punctual to scheduled events.
  • Maintain confidentiality of all case information.
  • Repeatedly portray a patient case with accuracy as trained by U of M faculty or staff.
  • Remember what the student who examined you did and then record it on a checklist (accurately evaluate a student's performance).
  • Have strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Want to contribute to the training process of excellent physicians.

Are there other opportunities/positions besides being a Standardized Patient?

Yes, while SPs are a large piece of our Program, we do also place individuals into the following roles: Proctors, Physical Exam Patient (PEP), UTA/GTA. These roles are described in more detail on individual tabs under the navigation menu section: "Job Descriptions."

What are the parking options?

The Standardized Patient Program is located in the Taubman Health Science Library on the University of Michigan's Medical Campus. Our temporary-employees (SPs, proctors, etc.) are responsible for their own transportation and parking. You are NOT allowed to park in nearby employee or patient structures. Please visit the "Parking Information" tab on the navigation menu under "Resources" to see maps and options, which includes approximate timing and costs.

I'm interested in working for the Standardized Patient Program. What do I do next?

  • University of Michigan's Standardized Patient Program-APPLICATION
    • Our interview cycle is yearly---Applications submitted will be kept on file until we open the screening process.
  • When applying, please fill out the form completely. Our HR representative may call you for additional information/screening depending on our current recruitment needs.
  • *NOTE* Full-time UM employees are not eligible to apply.