Standardized Patients (SP) assist in the education of health care professionals, primarily medical, nursing, nurse practitioner and pharmacy students. They are healthy lay people who have been carefully trained to portray an actual patient by presenting the history, body language, physical findings and the emotional and personality characteristics of the patient they are representing. Students practice interviewing and physical examination skills and can have their skills evaluated using SPs rather than using hospitalized or clinic patients.
Standardized Patients have several advantages for health professional education:
- availability whenever the curriculum requires;
- standardization of patient cases using several standardized patients;
- repeatability with numerous students;
- experience with difficult patient cases or sensitive situations;
- eliminate risks to patients with inexperienced students;
- safe environment for students to practice different communication and management techniques;
- provision of immediate feedback from a patient's point of view.
In addition to the SPs who are trained to portray other patients, there are also Teaching Patients who are SPs who have their own medical histories. They may have personal experience with cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, neurological issues, etc. The teaching patients are trained to present their own stories in a way that helps the students gain experience taking histories and performing physical examinations.
More than 200 standardized patients participate in the SP program. They come from varying backgrounds and range in age from 10 - 80. All of our SPs have a special interest in improving the learning opportunities for and evaluation of health care professional students. SPs are willing to represent an unending variety of patients to students, at any level of training, to practice and/or evaluate the 'art and science' of therapeutic communication, history taking and physical examination.
Our SPs work with many aspects of the Undergraduate Medical Education Program, Family Practice, Psychiatry and Obstetrics/Gynecology Residency Programs, School of Pharmacy, School of Nursing and the Nurse Practitioner Course at the Centre for Nursing Studies. We also provide SPs for two national licensing examinations - the Medical Council of Canada Licensing Examination - Part II and the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada Licensing Examination.