Ohio State Navbar

Sign In

Frequently Asked Questions

How will I, as an SP, know what to say when the students interview me?

Standardized Patients (SPs) will be given a "patient case" or script detailing the current medical problem, past medical history, family and social situation, and emotional state they will need to portray. SPs will learn to appear as the patient by using specific body language, movement, and responses to physical examination. Standardized Patients may also be trained to look for specific student responses and skills, to record them, and to give feedback to the students on their performances.

Will the students know I am not a real patient?

All students are aware that they are seeing SPs, and they are asked to perform histories and physical examinations just as they would with real patients.

Will I have to grade the student?

Standardized Patients may be asked to complete a checklist as a record of the encounter, and they may sometimes be asked to subjectively rate clinical skills. SPs might also be asked to provide both positive and constructive feedback to the students based on their performances.

What type of physical examination will be done?

Students will perform focused physical examinations based on the patient case. These examinations may include listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope; pressing on the abdomen, neck, face and limbs; using a scope to look in the ears, eyes, nose and throat; taking an SP's pulse and blood pressure; checking muscle strength, reflexes, range of motion and gait. Breast, pelvic, genital or rectal examinations will not be performed. Invasive procedures (blood draw, X-ray, throat cultures) will not be performed.

Will I have to remove my clothing?

SPs may be required to wear hospital gowns during the sessions. An SP may always wear underclothing under the gowns, and if appropriate to the patient case, shorts or sweatpants.

Will I need to know a lot about medicine?

No.  Patient cased will contain all the information one needs for portrayal and feedback.

Is my previous health history important?

It might be. Each patient is matched with a case.  An SP who has had an appendectomy could not portray a patient with appendicitis. However, a surgical scar might not matter in a case about a headache, or wrist pain. An SP's answers on the medical database questionnaire will help match the SP to appropriate patient cases.

How are Standardized Patients selected?

As an SP, one will use a wide range of skills. An SP will need to role-play and work with a varied group of people. It is important that one is comfortable with his or her body and letting others touch and examine him or her. Strong written and verbal communication skills are required. Punctuality, reliability and flexibility are imperative.

Do I need to be an actor?

No, although many actors work as SPs. The focus is on providing the student with an educational opportunity, not on performance or dramatic interpretation. Playing a patient case is extremely repetitive, as exactly the same simulation must be done for every student encounter in a specific session. Many actors and non-actors find this work rewarding. You will contribute to the education of future health care providers, and many students are extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with SPs and receive feedback on their skills.

How often would I work?

The work can be temporary, part-time, and seasonal. SP sessions are scheduled according to student needs and program requirements. SPs who perform satisfactorily are given first preference for future work, depending on need and case requirements.

What else should I know about being a Standardized Patient?

This job is not easy and it is not for everybody. It requires concentration while being interviewed and examined. You must be able to respond exactly as the real patient would. You must be able to maintain not only the patient's character but also simulate their physical condition during an encounter. When the encounter is over you must recall the student's performance and record it on a checklist. You may also be required to provide verbal feedback directly to the student. You will repeat these tasks many times in succession without change. Being an SP takes energy, memorization, discipline, concentration, excellent communication skills and a high level of comfort with your own health. ​​​