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  • Standardized Patients

    What is a standardized Patient (SP)?

    A Standardized Patient (SP) is a healthy person trained to simulate the personal history, physical symptoms, emotional characteristics and everyday concerns of an actual patient.

    Who are SPs?

    SPs come from various backgrounds and age groups. We currently have a roster of over 100 SPs who range in age from 10-80 years of age. SPs can be actors, writers, directors, visual artists, educators, retired people, home keepers, and more!

    What kinds of skills do SPs have?

    SPs are healthy people, in mind and body. SPs are intelligent, articulate, and have the ability to memorize scenarios of a given case that they are simulating. SPs are emotionally mature people, who are able to portray a range of emotions when needed. SPs are reliable, and arrive to trainings and simulations on time. SPs are generous in spirit, and are able to interact with medical students without fear or apprehension.

    What are SPs used for?

    The Island Medical Program makes use of SPs in two ways:

    • Communication Skills: where the students learn how to take a history, or do an interview with the patient. This is used as a teaching tool to facilitate an opportunity for students to learn how to practice interviewing skills, or handle difficult and demanding situations
    • Assessment of Clinical Competence: where the program tests the abilities of the medical students to carry out a physical examination, or take a history from a patient.

    What kinds of cases do SPs simulate?

    The types of cases that an SP will be asked to simulate vary in demand of portrayal of symptoms and background history. Some cases are about the students taking a history from the SP. In this case the SP will memorize all the relevant background medical history of the patient they are simulating. These could vary from headache, to abdominal pain, to chest pain. Sometimes the SP will be trained to portray some physical symptoms during the history taking encounter (i.e coughing).

    There are other cases that are designed to test the student’s skills at doing a physical examination. The SP in this case will be examined by the students, and will be trained to portray the physical findings of this patient.

    • How long does a simulation last? Simulations range between 20 minutes and 40 minutes for the communication skills sessions. Sometimes SPs will do several simulations in one day. In the assessment cases, simulations are only 10 minutes long per student. Some assessments take place during an entire morning, and sometimes an afternoon.

    Why do SPs have to train to simulate a role?

    Simulating a role requires depth of knowledge of a particular case. The cases are carefully written by physicians and SP educators, and are provided to SPs by the SP coordinator prior to each training session. The SP has to understand the intricacies of the medical history of this particular patient in order to simulate it accurately.

    • How long are training sessions? Training sessions take place 2 weeks prior to the simulation date. The SP coordinator will contact the SP at least 3-4 weeks prior to the simulation date to recruit them. Once dates have been arranged, SPs attend 2 training sessions, each lasting approximately 2 hours.

    What is the time commitment of SPs?

    An SP can work as many projects as they like, depending on their availability. The program recruits SPs depending on the requirements of the cases, which could vary from one year to the next.

    Where does training and simulation take place?

    Training typically takes place at the Standardized Patient Program site, Coronation Annex, Royal Jubilee Hospital. Simulations vary between the Royal Jubilee Hospital, the Victoria General Hospital, and the Medical Sciences Building at UVic.

    Are SPs remunerated for their participation?

    SPs are paid $20-25/hour for training and simulation sessions. Training usually involves two 2-hour sessions. Standardized patient sessions and exams vary in length from a few hours to an entire day, with a 4-hour minimum payment rate which can add up to $200 for one project.

    Next steps?

    If you are interested in becoming a standardized patient, please use our application form, or contact:

    Karen Basi
    Patient Programs Coordinator,
    Island Medical Program

    250-370-8111 ext: 12386