A Standardized Patient (SP) is a person carefully recruited and trained to take on the characteristics of a real patient thereby affording the student an opportunity to practice and to be evaluated on learned skills in a simulated clinical environment. Standardized patients play a key role in medical education. They accurately and consistently recreate the history, personality, physical findings, and emotional responses of an actual patient and/or a patient’s significant other. Medical students, under the supervision of physician educators, work with standardized patients to practice physical examination, history‐taking, diagnostic, and communications skills.
During an interaction with a student, the SP may:
- present case history in response to questioning by the student
- undergo a limited physical examination at the student’s direction
- assist students in developing their communication and clinical skills
- assist students in working through difficult emotional situations in a safe environment
Students also learn clinical skills through interactions with Physical Exam Teaching Associates (PETAs), Genitourinary Teaching Associates (GTAs), and Male Urological Teaching Associates (MUTAs). These are specially trained SPs who aid faculty in the teaching of the different components of the physical exam.
The Physical Exam Teaching Associates (PETAs) are:
- specially trained SPs that teach the techniques of basic physical examination (abdominal, neurology, cardiovascular, pulmonary, and musculoskeletal)
- patient models, providing the students the chance to practice exam techniques
- able to provide the perspective of a patient
The educational benefits of a PETA for the student include:
- humanizing the patient
- providing immediate feedback, reassurance and opportunity for experiential learning
- providing individualized attention and feedback on interpersonal skills, as well as technique
- giving feedback from the perspective of the patient
- learning in a safe and nurturing environment
A Genitourinary Teaching Associate (GTA) is an individual who is trained to teach techniques and protocol for performing the gender-specific physical examination to students, using him or herself as a demonstration and practice model. The GTA also provides feedback to the students in a supportive environment for skill development and practice. Emphasis is on teaching from the patient perspective.
Roles of Male and Female GTAs:
- A female GTA teaches a basic routine breast and pelvic examination
- A male GTA, also referred to as a Male Genitourinary Teaching Associate (MUTA), teaches a routine male genital-rectal examination
- Both male and female GTAs include physician-patient communication and patient education in their instruction, equipping students with compassionate and caring interpersonal skills for effective patient communication in the genitourinary exam
At UCF College of Medicine our SPs, PETAs and GTAs undergo a rigorous training process. We currently have over 100 trained SPs! We are always looking for more candidates who would like to become part of our program.