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Standardized Patients

Learn more about Standardized Patients

A Standardized Patient is an individual who may serve in a variety of capacities in helping educate and assess learners and practitioners with specific knowledge, skills, and behaviors.  Standardized Patients may also be called Standardized Clients, Standardized Clinicians, Clinical Educators, Simulated Patients, Teaching Associates, Lay Clinical Educators, GTAs, MUTAs, and SPETAs. 

Standardized Patients are individuals who portray or simulate a patient as part of a case.  SPs learn all aspects of a case portrayal including the patient’s appearance, demeanor, chief complaint, symptoms, past medical history, family history, and physical findings.  Standardized Patients are taught to simulate a variety of abnormal physical findings depending on the case needs.

SPs are instructed and trained by part time and full time staff as needed by the project.  The SP Educator has overarching responsibility for the overall integrity and quality of the project.  During teaching or assessment activities, SPs should expect that the learner might do one or more of the following: conduct an interview, provide patient counseling, and/or perform physical examinations. 

The duties of a Standardized Patient include:

1)     Work in a professional manner when interacting with learners, faculty, fellow SPs, and staff.

2)     Portray all aspects of the case as trained including history of current problem, with appropriate affect/behavior and physical findings.

3)     Demonstrate improvisational skills when appropriate in case portrayals.

4)     Teach knowledge, skills, and behaviors accurately and consistently in a learner centered approach.

5)     Complete checklists accurately and consistently using EMS Arcadia software.

6)     Monitor other SPs for quality assurance and communicate with the SP Educator or staff about portrayal inconsistencies.

7)     Inform the CAPE of changes in contact information such as name, telephone, home address, and email address.

8)     Receive ongoing feedback and modify behaviors accordingly.

9)     Provide appropriate feedback to learners and colleagues as needed by the project. 

10)   Activate account and check it on a regular basis in order to view and sign up for trainings and portrayals. Contact CAPE staff if encountering issues that hinder ability to request shifts. 

11)   Keep CAPE updated on changes in recruitment availability status.

12)   Interface with University email account, ShiftPlanning, and EMS Arcadia software to keep passwords and profile current.

13)   Other duties as assigned.


Standardized Patients will receive case or teaching materials via email prior to the first training.  SPs are expected to review the case material thoroughly and come to the first training prepared to discuss the case with the SP Educator and other SPs involved in the project.

SPs are required to attend all training sessions for the project for which they were recruited.  At the discretion of the SP Educator, alternate arrangements may be made for SPs that are unable to attend all case trainings or have already been trained in the case.   

The number of training sessions depends on the type of case or teaching and the experience the SP has with the material.  OSCE or CPE stations will have multiple trainings.  Trainings will be at least 2 hours in length. Cases that are used for educational programs may have only one training session, depending on the complexity of the case, newness of the case (new cases require additional training), and the SPs' previous experience with the material. 

SPs who are participating as a model for a physical exam OSCE may not be required to attend any training but will receive an orientation on the expectation of their role.

Once trained in a case, Standardized Patients will be expected to portray their case accurately and consistently throughout the duration of the project.  In order to “standardize” the case as much as possible, there may be requirements in dress code, portrayal affect, physical appearance, display of physical symptoms, etc.  For instance, all CEs trained in a case may be required to cough during an encounter, dress in business casual attire, and appear anxious during the exam.  SPs should expect to come to each portrayal session dressed appropriately to the case and prepared to demonstrate any required physical symptoms or patient behaviors.  The SP Educator will monitor SP portrayals throughout a project period to ensure accuracy and consistency and will give feedback to the SP about meeting the portrayal standards.  If a SP is not meeting the standards on a consistent basis, he/she will first receive feedback; however if the standards continue to go unmet, he/she may be excused from the case.

Qualifications for eligibility to be hired as a Standardized Patient 


Two years of work experience in the occupational field or specialized subject area of the work assigned to the job. Relevant fields include: Performing Arts, Theater, Nursing, Patient Care, Clinical/Medical Research, or closely related assignment.

Two years of college, university or non-correspondence school course work in Performing Arts, Theatre, Nursing, Patient Care, or related fields may substitute for the required experience on a year-for-year basis.

Standardized Patients should also have the following qualifications to be eligible for hire as a temporary employee:

1)     Demonstrate ability and willingness to work cooperatively with learners, other SPs, faculty, and staff.

2)     Demonstrate ability to be instructed by a Program Leader and/or Trainer and portray cases and/or teach and assess skills consistently.

3)     Demonstrate flexibility and reliability with scheduling and assignments.

4)     Pass a University required background check.

5)     May need to fit certain age, gender, race, and ethnic attributes as the position dictates.