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How to Incorporate SPs in Your Course

Why Use Standardized Patients?

Standardized patients (SPs) are non-biased and are able to portray any role and demeanor that is asked of them. SPs provide real time, authentic feedback to learners to improve practice in a way that role playing with a colleague or utilizing a task trainer simply cannot replicate.


The use of SPs provides an opportunity to practice in a safe learning environment before utilizing skills on actual patients. Learners are able to work with any patient problem, diagnosis, or conversation instead of hoping that particular patient will be encountered within the clinical environment. In addition to the benefit of working with any patient at any time, preceptors and faculty observers can incorporate a “time out” to provide for teachable moments and allow for additional opportunities for learners to practice skills.


SPs are trained to portray specific details of a scenario based upon educator stipulation. Each learner will have the opportunity to see a patient presented the same way, providing consistency for assessment and feedback.


Our large pool of SPs are able to portray both straightforward and complex roles based upon scenario design. They are able to adapt to learning activities based upon learner need, from a focused physical exam and basic interviewing skills to end of life difficult conversations.


Prior to any activity, SPs are oriented to the learners and receive instruction about how to provide an optimal learning experience and offer feedback. Our SPs are trained to escalate and deescalate specific behaviors based upon learner response and expertise.


SPs are able to provide feedback for any encounter. Our SPs are primarily trained on a debrief, learner-focused model of feedback delivery. Learners are asked open-ended questions seeking reflection on the encounter while SPs intertwine their feedback and suggestions within the learner-led discussion.