Standardized Patient Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is a standardized patient (SP)?

A standardized patient is a person who portrays a patient for training and assessment of clinical skills for health sciences learners. During interactions with a learner, the standardized patient responds to questions asked by the student and, in some cases, undergoes specific physical examinations. Each standardized patient encounter is designed to teach or assess skills appropriate to the student’s level of training. The word “standardized” means that the standardized patient repeats his or her story in a consistent manner to numerous students.

2. What characteristics are you looking for in standardized patients?

We are looking for people who are interested in students and in learning, people who are excellent listeners and people who can focus on the educational goals of the session. It is also important for a standardized patient to stay focused, impartial and consistent in the role they are playing. We are looking for candidates that have strong recall skills, quick adaptation to change and a desire to enhance student learning. A flexible schedule, reliability and punctuality are all required in order to work as a standardized patient. In general, standardized patients are often very people-oriented with strong communication skills. The UCF COM Standardized Patient Program strives to involve as many diverse people as possible. While it is helpful if you have a medical background or have had some contact with doctors or other health care providers, it is not essential.

3. Are the hours regular?

This is an intermittent, hourly position. One month you might work 16 hours, the next month no hours. The schedule depends on many variables, including planned student activities, faculty requests, and demographics needed.

4. Why would a person want to be a standardized patient?

It is a position that offers a flexible schedule and the opportunity to make a difference in educating future health care professionals.

5. Do I need to be an actor?

No, although some of our SPs are actors/actresses. You will be trained in particular acting behaviors specific to each case you do. Your character portrayal will be standardized each time you perform your case. This means that you will portray the same character in repeated back-to-back sessions and you will mirror what other actors portraying your case are being trained to do. In a simulated academic setting, your acting behavior will be objective not subjective.

6. How would I know what to say when medical students interview me?

You will be carefully trained and will have all of the information you need in advance. As the standardized patient, you may be able to tell the student details about your life such as your job, your family and hobbies. You will be trained to portray the appropriate emotional state as the patient. For cases requiring a physician examination, you will be taught how to move as a patient would and to accurately simulate responses while being examined. You will need to be willing to study in addition to trainings to learn the materials needed for Objective Structured Clinical Exams (OSCEs) and events.

7. Do medical students know we are not real patients?

Yes, the students are aware that we are not real patients. We are not trying to deceive anyone. Students are told to behave just as they would with real patients while doing histories and physical examinations.

8. Why do you need standardized patients? I thought medical students learned on real patients.

Students do work with real patients in supervised clinical experiences. However, standardized patients provide a safe and controlled simulated learning environment to prepare students to see real patients. Standardized patients provide students with the same, consistent portrayal each time, and as a result the faculty can be sure that the same skills are practiced by all students. Thus, every student gets the chance to demonstrate their clinical skills in the same situation. It makes for a fair exam or learning experience for everyone.

9. Are standardized patients “guinea pigs”?

No one will be trying out any treatments or medical procedures on you. You will be helping facilitate student learning and student assessment. If the session involves a physical exam, you will know about all of the aspects it entails in advance.

10. Is being a standardized patient like being a research subject? Is this a research project?

No, this is very different. Medical research subjects are thought of as people who take experimental drugs or are undergoing medically designed behavior changes such as diet or exercise programs and then have their reactions studied. We use standardized patients to simulate situations for the students such as:

11. Will I have to remove my clothing?

For patient cases that require no physical examinations, standardized patients wear regular clothes. If the students are expected to perform a physical examination, you may be required to wear a hospital gown while keeping your undergarments on.

12. What kind of physical exams are performed on standardized patients?

Physical exams can include focused exams such as an eye exam or a complete head to toe physical. It depends on the learning objectives of the student that our faculty has designed. More intimate exams, such as breast or genital exams, are only practiced on advanced level SPs that specifically sign up for our Genitourinary Teaching Associate (GTA) program or Male Urogenital Teaching Associate (MUTA) program. Overall, it is important that all SPs be comfortable with their own body and having a student inspect or examine them. You will need to be comfortable wearing a patient gown with appropriate undergarments and being videotaped for faculty review purposes. Please note that SP/student encounters are simulated in a controlled environment with supervision of the College of Medicine (COM) staff.

13. Will I have to disclose my personal health information?

The University of Central Florida is an equal-opportunity institution that does not discriminate based on race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, sexual orientation or disability in its admissions, student aid, employment practices, education programs or other related activities. While we do not ask you to disclose your personal health information, a student may ask you about surgical scars they note or any abnormal physical exam findings. You will be trained on how to respond in this kind of situation, based on the patient scenario you will portray in a medical case.

14. What kinds of things are mandatory for this position?


15. What does case training entail?

SPs are required to attend their assigned training session to ensure compliance with the case and encounter validity. SPs should arrive to training having memorized the opening statement and all case details noted in their script. Training may also include role playing, watching case videos, and learning how to give verbal or written feedback to students.

16. What does the Standardized Patient job description look like?

General Responsibilities:

The Standardized Patient reports directly to the Medical Director and Assistant Director of the Clinical Skills and Simulation Center (CSSC). The major responsibility of this position is to portray all the characteristics of a real patient, simulating the signs and symptoms. Standardized patients will often be physically examined by students and faculty as part of the medical students learning experience.

Job Category Temporary

Work Schedule Flexible Hours, events mainly on Tuesday and Wednesday

Other Characteristics of Position

Specific Tasks

17. How do I become a Standardized Patient?

To be considered, you will be required to submit these three documents to our email account

  1. SP application
  2. Resume
  3. Cover letter

Once the application has been received and reviewed, selected candidates will be contacted by our HR liaison to set up an interview. Interviews take place periodically during the year. Working as a Standardized Patient is considered an hourly temporary job. The hours will depend on the needs of the events throughout the year.