Job Descriptions

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 all education phases of medical school and SP experiences begin as early as two weeks into the student's first year. Through extensive training, SPs are standardized in role portrayal and scoring in order to provide each student with a similar experience for practice and assessment. SPs are trained to portray a variety of chief concerns, allowing students to gain hands-on experience with specific health and psycho social issues in relation to the curricular focus. Exercises with SPs provide a reliable measurement of student performance during patient interactions throughout the course of medical school.

When is a Standardized Patient best utilized?

SPs are most effective when engaged to measure the following domains:

  • 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 online evaluation forms. Once the evaluations have been completed, the SP may provide the student with an immediate debriefing session, asking the student to self-reflect about the encounter.

Who are our Standardized Patients?

Our SPs come from all walks of life and are between 18-80 years of age. We strive to have a diverse roster of people of any race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender identity and expression, or sexual orientation. Many of our SPs 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 their motivation to become part of the Standardized Patient Program comes from a desire to assist in the training of excellent physicians.

Student Practice Clinical Skills Image