Standardized Patients

Standardized Patients (SP) Program

Standardized Patients (SP) play a crucial role in training the health care professionals of tomorrow.

SPs are healthy laypeople carefully trained to portray an actual patient by presenting the history, body language, physical findings and the emotional and personality characteristics of the patient they are representing. This gives health care learners valuable practice in the "art and science" of interviewing, therapeutic communication and/or physical examination skills.

Standardized Patients have several advantages for health professional education:

  • allowing for standardization of patient cases using several standardized patients playing the same role;
  • allowing for repeatability with numerous students;
  • provision of immediate feedback from a patient's point of view;
  • eliminating risks to real-life patients with inexperienced students;
  • providing a safe environment for students to practice different communication, examination and management techniques.

SPs are trained to simulate patients. However, students also learn from Teaching Patients, who are laypeople with complex medical histories. 

More than 300 standardized patients participate in the SP program. They come from varying backgrounds, and range in age from infancy to 85 years old! No formal acting training is necessary to become an SP. What you do need is a sincere interest in improving the learning opportunities for and evaluation of learners in health care professions.