SP FAQs

▼   What is a standardized patient?
A standardized patient, also known as an SP, is an individual specially trained to act as a patient for the instruction, practice and assessment of medical examination skills of health care providers. An SP is a significant resource for teaching and evaluating clinical skills. Some additional definitions include:
“A person who has been carefully coached to simulate an actual patient so accurately that the simulation cannot be detected by a skilled clinician. In performing the simulation, the SP presents the gestalt of the patient being simulated; not just the history, but the body language, the physical findings, and the emotional and personality characteristics as well.” Dr. Howard Barrows, neurologist
▼   What does a standardized patient do?
Standardized patients typically have three main roles. These roles include role-play, documentation, and feedback.
  • The first role of an SP is to realistically simulate the role of a patient or situation. SPs are trained in the details of an actual case. For example, they are provided details of the history, personality, and abnormal physical findings. SPs are not intended to be a replacement for an experience with real patients or situations, but a highly realistic learning and assessment resource for the learner to develop skills in interviewing and examination techniques.
  •  The second role of an SP is to accurately document what occurred in the session with the learner on the checklists you have been trained to complete.
  • The third role of the SP is to facilitate learning and provide verbal and written feedback to the learners about their data gathering (interviewing and physical examination), communication, and interpersonal skills in a supportive and informative way.
▼   Do the learners know we aren’t real patients?
Yes. Learners know they are working with standardized patients. They are told to behave and interact with SPs exactly as they would with a real patient.
▼    Will I need to take my clothes off?
 Depending on the goals of the encounter, SPs may wear usual clothing or patient gowns. If the encounter requires a physical assessment, both male and female SPs wear shorts and female SPs wear a sports bra.
▼   Will the learners assess all of me?
No. Depending on the goals of the encounter, learners simply complete physical assessments
exactly as they would in a medical environment. This does not include anything beneath your shorts or
sports bra.
▼   I have surgical scars and previous health issues. Can I still be a standardized patient?
Yes, as long as your health issues do not prevent you from simulating the assigned role. Learners are
instructed to ignore scars or marks that are not associated with the case.
▼    Do I have to know a lot about medicine or health care?
 No. We will teach you what you need to know. We do not expect you to learn an extensive about of
medical information.
▼   Will I have to decide if the learner passes or fails?
No. We will train you on a specific case. Each case has a checklist of items the learner is required to
complete during the encounter. Upon completion of the encounter, the SP reviews and marks the
checklist. Additionally, SPs are trained to provide written feedback regarding the communication skills of
the learner.
▼   Will I only have to work with medical students?
No. Learners include all health care occupations.
▼   How will I know what to say and do?
The simulation faculty will provide case training prior to any scheduled events. SPs are provided with
detailed case information prior to the training, and review and practice the case during the training
sessions. The SPs are trained on how to answer learner’s questions.
▼   Will I have to memorize a lengthy script?
No. Some memorization of specific statements is required, but memorization of lengthy dialogues are not
included or expected.
▼   Is this a full time job?
No. Quite often, our SPs think of this as a part-time, part-time job. Depending on the required cases and
scheduled events, some weeks require a high number of SPs for 4-5 hours. Other weeks have limited or
no need.
▼   How much does the job pay?
SPs are paid $12 per hour worked, with a minimum of three scheduled hours (if you work less than three
hours, you are paid for three). Taxes are not deducted from the payments and no benefits are included.
▼   I’m interested or have additional questions. What do I do next?

Contact simulation@southalabama.edu for more information or to request an application.

Mr. Joe Farmer
jfarmer@southalabama.edu

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