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Standardized Patient FAQs

How will I know what to do as an SP?

Standardized Patients (SP’s) portray a specific patient working from a script detailing the current medical problem, past medical history, family and social situation, and emotional state. SP’s will be taught to use a certain body language, positions and responses to a physical examination. Standardized Patients look for specific student responses and skills and give feedback on the student’s performances. Students are aware that they are seeing SP’s, and they are asked to perform histories and physical examinations just as they would with real patients.

Do I grade the student?

Standardized Patients may be asked to complete a checklist as a record of the encounter. We will show you this before you see your first student.

What type of physical examination is performed?

Students will perform focused physical examinations based on your patient case as they would with a real patient, except for the following exams.  The students will not perform breast, pelvic, genital or rectal exams.  They will not perform invasive procedures as drawing blood or throat cultures.  They will use a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs.  They will palpate (press on) the abdomen. They will also use a light to look in the ears, throat and eyes.  They may also take your Blood pressure and pulse.

Will I have to remove my clothing?

SP’s should wear loose clothing during the sessions.  Women should wear a sports bra under their shirts as the students will place the stethoscope directly on their chest.

Will I need to know a lot about medicine?

No.  Your patient portrayal information will contain all the information you will need.

What if I know a VCOM student well or I am related to a student?

If you are familiar with a student or are related to a VCOM student we will not schedule you to be a patient for that encounter.

Is my previous health history important?

It is important there are no significant positive findings on your exam that would confuse the student.  However, a surgical scar might not matter in a case about a headache or wrist pain. Yet, a surgical scar on an appendectomy patient will disqualify that patient to be an appendectomy patient.  An SP’s answers on the medical database questionnaire will help match the SP to the 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 are SP’s. The exam provides the student with an educational opportunity. Playing a patient is extremely repetitive and the same simulation must be done for every student encounter. It requires concentration while being interviewed and examined. Your responses should be that of a real patient.  When the encounter with the student is completed, you must recall their performance to evaluate them on a check list.

How often would I work?

This is a part-time, hourly position, reporting on an as needed basis.

What personality traits are needed to be a SP?

An SP needs to be focused at the task at hand.  This requires: energy, memorization, discipline, concentration, excellent communication skills and a high level of comfort with your own health.