Standardized Patients

What is a Standardized Patient?

Standardized Patients (SPs) are trained members of the community who portray patients with specific problems. SPs help students and residents learn how to interact with patients in a realistic clinical setting.

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What does a Standardized Patient Do?

SPs are trained to portray a real patient by presenting patient history, body language, and symptoms. Each interaction is recorded for review and depending on the case, an SP may give a student valuable feedback to help improve their examination skills.


Learners at the CSETC are typically medical students, OUHSC students, and residents. The learners all have varying levels of experience.

Yes. SPs wear hospital gowns so that the learners can perform physical examinations. SPs will wear underclothes such as a sports bra and gym shorts underneath the gown.

No. Medical research subjects are given drugs or are placed on certain diets in order to study their reactions. We are testing the learners, not the SPs. We use SPs to simulate situations for the learners and the learners are then evaluated on what they do during these encounters.

The most common simulation situations include:

  • Meeting a patient for the first time in a clinic or emergency department
  • Interviewing the patient about his/her medical problem
  • Doing a physical examination

No. Some of our SPs are trained actors, but most are not. This work is about accurately portraying the needs of the patient’s case and the exam, not finding dramatic moments or playing to an audience. Working as an SP is repetitive because the same simulation must be done for every learner. If you are an actor, you may find working as an SP to be good experience, but it will be more difficult than working from a script or within dramatic improvisational outlines.

Note that the cases must remain confidential. SPs sign an agreement that they will not disclose details about the cases they portray to others. They are not permitted to use the material in any public or private performance or to include case details (including the fictional patient’s name) on resumes. SPs are also prohibited from sharing any information about cases through social media or other means.

This is not a typical job. We need people who understand the unusual requirements of this program, which include the following:

  • You should be comfortable with your own health and in dealing with health care professionals
  • You must be comfortable with undergoing repeated physical examinations.
  • You must have good English reading and verbal communications skills.
  • You must be comfortable using a computer and navigating websites.
  • You must have good recall and the ability to concentrate.
  • You must not have any biases against anyone based on their gender, race, religion, national origin, or physical characteristics.
  • You must be reliable and punctual.
  • You must always maintain confidentiality, even if you go on to work for another institution. You will be required sign an agreement that you will not discuss, share, or disclose any written or web-based material you see in the center or anything you learn or memorize about this exam as a result of your employment. Failure to follow this policy may result in dismissal and prosecution.
  • You must be able to pass a background check for security purposes.

Starting pay for a training recruit is currently $16 per hour. Once you have successfully completed the training and have transitioned to a full SP, your pay will be raised to the current rate of $18 per hour. All SPs are paid $12 an hour when asked to attend training sessions or workshops.

Most are common examinations that you might have as a real patient in a doctor’s office. For example, learners may:

  • Listen to your heart and lungs with a stethoscope.
  • Press on your abdomen.
  • Look for tenderness or swelling.
  • Look into your eyes, ears, and throat.
  • Take your blood pressure.
  • Assess your muscle strength.
  • Check your reflexes.
  • Check your pulse.

None of the examinations involve taking blood or other samples and SPs are never given any drugs.

Yes. There is no reason for anyone to experience anything that might be harmful. The examinations are very basic and do not cause any harm to SPs. At most, there may be some brief discomfort. The majority of encounters are recorded and are observable via video monitors as they happen.

You will be trained to portray a particular patient with a complete history. This includes:

  • The reason the patient is coming to see the doctor or medical professional
  • The patient’s past medical history
  • The patient’s emotional state
  • Social details such as the patient’s job, family, and activities.

Through our training process, you will learn to become that person and speak to the examinee just as that patient would.

The work is part-time and hours can vary. We schedule SPs based on the events of the center, the need for the case that each SP is trained for, and availability to work. Due to these variables, it is not possible for us to guarantee a minimum number of hours. However, we generally know what our schedule will be like for the academic year, which helps us to plan your schedule in advance.

Probably yes, if you are suitable in every other way. Everyone has a medical history. Sometimes an SP has a medical condition that does not affect the portrayal of a particular case and sometimes an SP is excluded from portraying a particular case due to a medical condition. SPs are carefully matched with suitable cases on an individual basis.

Please click on the “Apply Now” button above to submit an application. We accept applications year round and interviews begin in the spring. A new training cohort is started once a year in August. To be considered for the next cohort, please apply by June 1.