A standardized patient (SP) is someone who has been trained to portray a patient or family member in a consistent fashion for the purposes of clinical simulation. Most of the SPs at SAIL are professional actors, providing an exceptionally high degree of realism and consistency in their portrayal.

Some examples of how SPs can contribute to health professions education include:

  • Skills workshops: SP encounters provide a safe environment for learners to practice skills such as history taking, performing a mental status exam, delivering bad news, screening for domestic abuse, and conducting a physical exam.
  • Communication Skills: SPs provide learners with feedback on communication and interpersonal skills from the patient’s perspective.
  • CORE physical exam:  SPs assess learners on the correct performance of physical exam maneuvers.
  • Clerkship OSCEs: SPs portray a variety of patients for Objective Structured Clinical Examinations, in which learners are assessed on history, physical exam, communication, and clinical reasoning skills.
  • Multimodal Simulation – Procedural Skills: task trainers used in conjunction with SPs allow learners to practice communicating with the patient and healthcare professionals while conducting a procedure.
  • Multimodal Simulation – Mannequin Simulation: SPs portray family members and other characters in high-fidelity mannequin scenarios, enhancing the emotional realism of the scenario.  SPs participate in the post-scenario debriefing with learners, focusing on communication skills.
  • Secret Shoppers: Unannounced (incognito) SPs provide an unparalleled patient perspective on healthcare systems and clinical practice for the purpose of Quality Assurance and research.

Want to learn more about using SPs in one of your programs? Contact Bob Kiser, Associate Director: or 312-996-6551.