For Standardized Patients

We are currently recruiting SPs of all ages!
Sign Up

To learn more about the program, attend one of our monthly informational meetings.

After attending a meeting, email us your completed SP information form PDF Document.

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Phone: 254-724-7025
Email: spprogram@sw.org Send an e-mail

A Standardized Patient (SP) is a person, ranging from newborn to 100 years old, trained to act out the role of a patient, family member or other individual to allow learners to practice physical exam skills, history taking skills, communication skills and other important skills. The SP will use body language, emotions, personality and physical findings to appear as though they are an actual patient. No acting experience is necessary.

Interested individuals should:

  • Have a flexible schedule (three - four hours during regular business hours)
  • Have reliable transportation
  • Have a strong grasp on the English language, including verbal and written skills
  • Have a professional demeanor
  • Have a good memory
  • Have the ability to give and receive feedback
  • Enjoy working with people

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Standardized Patient?

A Standardized Patient (SP) is a person of any age, 0 to 100, trained to act out the role of a patient, family member or other individual to allow learners to practice physical exam skills, history taking skills, communication skills and other important skills. The SP will use body language, emotions, personality and physical findings to appear as though they are an actual patient.

No acting experience is necessary.

What is the purpose of the SP Program?

The SP Program is designed to provide a reliable, uniform experience to undergraduate medical students, residents, nurses and allied health professionals learning how to gain important interview and examination skills. Essentially, you are assisting future and current medical personnel be the best that they can be!

What kinds of scenarios do SPs portray?

Cases will vary.  Some of the past cases include, but are not limited to, physical exams, acute care (i.e. coughing, sore throat), signing consents, obstetrics and mental health. 

Do students know we are not real patients?

Yes. Students are aware that the activity is simulated but are told to behave as though they are treating a real patient.

Will I have to grade the student?

No. However, some activities require the SP to complete a checklist or give feedback on the student's performance. You will be taught how to complete a checklist or give feedback properly during training sessions should an activity require.

Can my child participate?

Absolutely! The SP Program frequently recruits pediatric patients and their parents for various activities including well child exams, acute care and other activities. Cases will be assigned based on age categorization, experience, preparation, flexibility, performance history and professionalism. A parent of legal conservator/guardian of an SP age 13 years or less is required to also be an SP and participate with the pediatric SP at each activity. Please consider this requirement as cases involving children are being developed.

No case will involve a full examination of a pediatric SP's breasts and/or genitalia. However, a physical exam of a pediatric SP age 4 years of less may, with the parental/guardian consent, include a brief observation of the child's breasts and/or genitalia. 

What is involved in a physical exam?

In most cases, you would take part in a very basic exam that is common in a physician's office. Student's may listen to your heart and lungs with a stethoscope, press on your abdomen looking for tenderness, look into your eyes, ears, nose and throat, check your pulses, etc. None of the examinations involve taking blood or other samples nor will you be given any drugs.

Are there different levels of SPs?

There are three levels of an adult standardized patient: 

Level 1: Standardized Patient Actors
These individuals can portray cases requiring minimal skill (i.e. surgery consent) to complex cases (i.e. multiple personality). An individual's expertise level is matched with the case and department objectives. In most instances, an SP is at the minimum level 1.
Level 2: Standardized Patient Models
These individuals serve as models for breast, genital and urological exams. Only SPs who have requested to become a Level 2 associate and undergo the proper training with the SP Educator will be considered for these types of cases.
Level 3: Standardized Patient Teaching Associates
These individuals are highly skilled SPs that have been trained extensively to teach physical, genital and urological exams. Only SPs who have requested to become a Level 3 associate and undergo proper training with the SP Educator will be considered for these types of cases.

There are four levels of a pediatric standardized patient as well as age limitations:

Level 1: Novice
Cases that require minimal skill (i.e. consent)

Level 2: Intermediate
Cases without a physical exam component
Level 3: Advanced
Cases with a physical exam component
(i.e. well-child visit)
Level 4: Specialized
Complex cases with or without a physical exam
(i.e. puberty, mental health)
 
Age 12 weeks to 4 years:
No training or role-playing
Age 5 to 9 years:
Limited training and some role-playing
Age 10 to 15 years:
Training and role-playing as age and experience appropriate
Age 16 to 17 years
Advanced training and role-playing

I don't like needles. Will I be stuck?

Never! Procedures such as a blood draw or throat culture will never be performed on an SP. If an activity involved a simulated procedure, a task trainer (fake body part) will take the place of the SP's body part.

Will my personal health history affect my ability to become an SP?

In most cases, no. There may be certain cases that individuals with scars, heart murmurs or other health conditions may be excluded from. But that same person may be able to portray a case that has nothing to do with those conditions. Essentially, if you are able to get on the examination table quickly and comfortably, you may be eligible to become an SP.

How much does it pay?

Compensation varies from case to case and is determined by several factors. Please see the Compensation section for more information.

How do I sign up?

Fill out the standardized patient information form PDF Document and email to spprogram@sw.orgSend an e-mail.

If you have any questions, contact us at 254-724-7025. The SP Program team is happy to answer any questions you may have about becoming an SP.


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