Standardized patient

What is a standardized patient?

A Standardized Patient, or SP is a layperson trained to present a clinical scenario or illness just like a "real" patient, for teaching or testing

Standardized Patient Brochure (pdf) and Form.


What are the benefits of using SPs versus "real" patients?

  • The Standardized Patient is not actually "sick" and worried about their care. The SP can focus on the student's actions.
  • Standardized Patients provide a "safe" environment for students to practice and perfect skills they will use with actual patients.
  • Students can practice their approach to a patient without the fear that making a mistake or saying something "wrong" may upset the patient.
  • The Standardized Patient is trained to portray a scenario identically every time, allowing each student the same learning opportunity.
  • Testing students' "patient" skills using Standardized Patients ensures a more predictable and fair assessment.

What Are SPs Used For?

Here are a few examples.

  • Students learn to interview a patient and gather information needed to help diagnose their problem.
  • Students practice effective interpersonal skills to better communicate with patients.
  • Students learn appropriate techniques and approaches for physical examination of patients.
  • Students learn techniques to counsel patients in a variety of circumstances on a variety of issues.
  • Students gain experience with challenging issues such as breaking bad news.
  • Testing any of the above.

What happens during an encounter with a student?

  • A typical encounter with a student may involve the SP being interviewed, counseled, or examined in the same manner as would occur during a regular doctor visit.
  • For certain sessions the SP is trained to provide constructive feedback to the student from the patient's point of view.
  • In certain cases SPs are trained to score student performances, and provide a score.

Standardized Patients Do NOT:

  • Replace students' experiences with real patients
  • Undergo invasive or potentially harmful examinations or procedures, e.g. rectal/pelvic exams, injections, etc.

How do I become a standardized patient

What qualifications do I need?

We look for people:

  • From all walks of life
  • Of all shapes and sizes
  • Of all ages and both sexes
  • With good communication skills
  • With a genuine interest in helping students learn
  • With reasonably flexible hours
  • Who can devote an occasional half day

How does becoming a standardized patient benefit me?

You will:

  • Gain awareness that you are making a significant contribution to the training of our future physicians and health care providers.
  • Help further develop and fine-tune your own interpersonal communication skills.
  • Better understand how our health care system works.
  • Meet new people with a common interest.
  • Gain modest financial compensation.

Interested In Learning More About Becoming A Standardized Patient?