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Standardized Patients

A Standardized Patient (SP) is someone who has been trained to simulate in a defined, consistent and standardized manner, a patient in a medical situation. SPs learn a case, based on a real patient other than themselves, and are interviewed and examined by students as though they were that person in the doctor’s office or clinic, giving that patient’s history and simulating their physical signs, such as pain or difficulty walking.

The School of Medicine’s SP Program was founded in 1999. Through the use of SPs, the William Maul Measey Institute for Clinical Simulation and Patient Safety (ICS) trains and evaluates students in the clinical skills of interviewing and examining patients.

The ICS also uses Patient Instructors. A PI is a lay person who has been trained to teach basic motor skill aspects of a physical examination using their own bodies as the teaching material. They instruct students how to make use of some simple physical examination equipment such as tuning forks, blood pressure cuffs, ophthalmoscopes, etc. They then teach students basic physical examination skills such as auscultating the heart and lungs, palpating the abdomen, eliciting reflexes, etc.

The following schools use SPs and/or PIs as part of their curriculum:

  • MD Program in Years 1, 2, and 3
  • Physician Assistant Program in Years 1 and 2
  • Schools of Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, and Dentistry

Both SPs and PIs are valuable in teaching students how to relate to their patients in a professional manner when carrying out physical examinations.

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