Standardized patients (SP) give learners the opportunity to develop, practice and enhance their patient interviewing skills, communication skills, and physical exam techniques. 

SP activities include:

Interviewing only
Students will learn or be evaluated on communication skills, interpersonal skills, and history taking.  SPs will either “play” themselves or take on a patient role.  No physical examination will be involved.  Activities may be one-on-one with the student or in a small group setting.

Physical Examination only
Students will learn or be evaluated on physical examination skills.  SPs will be in a patient gown and students will perform the physical exam by touching the skin.  Training is required when there are particular elements of the physical exam that a SP must record and/or when there are symptoms that must be simulated.  No breast, pelvic or rectal exams are performed.

History and Physical Examination
Students will learn or be evaluated on their interpersonal skills and their ability to obtain a history and perform a physical examination that revolves around a specific medical complaint (cough, fatigue, etc.).  The students may spend 15 to 30 minutes at a time with the SP.  SPs are trained to a specific medical script and physical presentation. 

Duties and Responsibilities

A Standardized Patient (SP) participates in the teaching and assessment of learners at DeSales University Healthcare Simulation Center.  The SP is trained to independently, consistently and accurately portray a specific case for which the learner will perform a brief interview and/or a focused physical examination.  An SP may also be trained to provide learners with constructive feedback regarding their performance.  SPs are assigned cases based on the demographics they can portray.

A standardized patient:

  • Memorizes a case script detailing specific emotions, behaviors, and disease signs/symptoms for presentation during simulation learning situations.

  • Presents case information in a standardized manner, as elicited by students during simulated interactive patient history and/or medical examinations.

  • Remains in a specific patient character as trained when responding to student questions.

  • Accurately remembers encounters with students for the purpose of scoring student behaviors.

  • Participates in group training and/or mentorship of entry-level standardized patients.

  • Maintains confidentiality of information related to cases, student behaviors and feedback evaluations.

  • Provides educationally constructive verbal feedback within a structured format, as appropriate to the position.

  • Participates in self-assessment of own skills as a SP and active pursuit of ways to improve those skills (i.e. reviewing own videos, observing others).

  • Performs miscellaneous job-related duties as assigned.