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Simulated Patients

A simulated patient/standardized patient*, often referred to as an SP, is someone who is trained to realistically portray patient scenarios. To accomplish this goal, SPs memorize personal histories and take on physical affects, as well as exhibit personality traits to suit each individual case. These histories, affects, and personality traits are disseminated and practiced through trainings that are conducted with the Clinical Skills Assessment staff. SPs may also offer students patient-centered feedback and assess them according to specific learning objectives.

To maintain quality and standardization, SPs are monitored by members of our staff and given feedback on their performance. This is done in an effort to provide a supportive, effective, and credible learning experience for CCOM students.

* The terms standardized patient and simulated patient (SP) are often used interchangeably, though in some contexts they have different meanings.

SP Qualities and Expectations

  • Interpersonal Skills: The SP cohort includes actors, students, grad students, nurses, educators, retirees, and other various professionals - in short, everyday people. The SPs' diversity of experience is a contribution to our program's strength.
  • Reliability:  The expectation is that SPs will be at all agreed upon trainings and performances. If there is a pattern of no shows, cancellations, or chronic lateness, an SP will cease to be offered work.
  • Memorization:  Within each case, there may be specific information than an SP memorizes verbatim. These memorized bits of information will then be given when a student asks an appropriate question to elicit said information. This is vital to the standardization of an encounter.
  • Recall:  After many encounters, an SP will be asked to commplete an assessment or checklist. To complete a checklist, an SP will need to recall what occurred during the encounter to accurately reflect what a student did or did not do or ask.
  • Feedback:  There are times when an SP will be asked to provide verbal feedback to a student. This verbal feedback focuses on behavior observed during the encounter (When you looked me in the eyes...) and how an SP felt in response to stated behavior (...I felt connected).

SP Training and Performance

SPs receive four to six hours of training prior to working with students; we want all SPs to walk into an exam room feeling confident and prepared. Below is a general outline of the steps taken before an SP arrives on the day of an event/performance.

  • Recruitment: SP is contacted about their availability
  • Confirmation:  If available and selected, SP is confirmed for the event
  • Training:  Confirmed SPs meet on Zoom for training

Once an SP has been recruited and trained, they are ready to participate in an event/performance. SP events/performances operate within this general framework:

  • Simulate:  SP performs as a patient in a simulated encounter
  • Articulate:  SP shares with the student how it felt to be their patient
  • Evaluate:  SP completes an assessment checklist based on encounter

Note: Not all performances require verbal feedback and/or assessment.