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Standardized Patient Program

"For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." - Aristotle

Being a Standardized Patient (SP) provides a unique opportunity to help shape the medical education of tomorrow’s clinicians and progress the patient-centered focus of those currently practicing. Standardized patient simulation utilizes individuals who have been carefully recruited and coached to portray the role of patient, family member, etc., affording students an opportunity to practice and/or be assessed in physical exam skills, history taking skills, communication skills and other exercises.


As a Standardized Patient you are coached to accurately and consistently create the history, personality, physical findings and emotional make up of an actual patient or the personality and characteristics of a family member or other “confederate” necessary to provide an accurate, objective-based encounter. The amount of training will be determined by the scope of the case. Generally speaking, the SP will work with multiple students, repeating the encounter numerous times during a session with no deviation. An SP is frequently trained in a variety of cases.


A typical Student/SP encounter lasts 15 minutes and may be followed by a 10 minute period in which the SP fills out an evaluation checklist and/or provides oral feedback. More complicated cases may require longer feedback sessions. Standardized patients may work anywhere from two to ten hours a day.

During an encounter with a student, the SP may be required to:

  • Present all required history as ‘scripted’ in the case (i.e. past medical history, current case history, family history, sexual history, social history, etc.)
  • Undergo a physical exam performed by the student
  • Portray a character requiring support while working through a difficult emotional situation

During each session an SP might interact with two to eight students depending on the type of exercise. Encounters usually require a physical examination by the student, however, most are non-invasive. SPs should expect to wear patient gowns and be touched during physical exams. Students are expected to treat each SP in a professional, clinical manner just as they would a ‘real’ patient.

Generally speaking, encounters are videotaped and used for various educational purposes that may include; student portfolio, review between student and faculty, training SPs, monitoring SP performances, etc. There are times when faculty/staff will observe an encounter using a video monitor or through the one-way glass window in the exam room.

Becoming a Standardized Patient

“Real” patients come from all walks of life. And so, in an effort to provide the most authentic experience for the student, Standardized Patients should represent every age, gender, culture, race, shape and size.

While acting experience may be helpful in the portrayal of certain scenarios, it is not mandatory. We look for individuals:

  • With excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • With a genuine interest in helping students learn
  • Who are comfortable with their own health and dealing with health professionals
  • With flexible schedules/hours
  • Who are punctual and reliable

We are not entertainers. We do not have a personal agenda with clinicians and/or the medical field. We are not seeking medical advice or treatment.

We are focused on providing the student with the best possible encounter.

Potential SPs are asked to attend an informational meeting and participate in a brief video-taped audition. Once hired, standardized patients become Per Diem employees of the North Shore-LIJ Health System and are required to participate in all HR protocols. Because SPs are trained on a case specific basis, if you are hired you may not be called until an appropriate case is available. As a newly hired SP you will be asked to complete a personal profile that will provide us with the detailed information necessary to accurately match you to a case(s).

To learn more about our program, please contact CLI@nshs.edu  


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