This Is Auburn

Standardized Patient Program Information

What is a Standardized Patient?
A Standardized Patient, or SP, is a person trained to consistently portray a patient or other individual in a scripted scenario for the purposes of instruction, practice, or evaluation.

Why do you need Standardized Patients?
Students work with real patients in supervised clinical experiences.  However, standardized patients help to provide a safe and controlled learning and testing environment to prepare students to see real patients.  Standardized patients provide students with the same, consistent case each time, and as a result the faculty can be sure that the same skills are practiced by all students.

What types of people do you need?
We are looking for adults of all ages, physical types, ethnic groups, and backgrounds to portray the various types of patients represented in the cases. We need individuals who can memorize their role, remain focused on the task at hand for long durations, are strong communicators, can learn quickly, accept direction and feedback, and are comfortable using technology. A high level of energy is required as the days can be long.

How are Standardized Patients selected?
SPs must have a wide range of skills. SPs will be trained to role-play with faculty and students, requiring them to be comfortable working with a varied group of people. SPs may also be responsible for providing written feedback to students, so strong written and verbal communication skills are required.  Lastly, it is imperative that SPs are punctual, reliable, and flexible.

How often would I work?
Standardized patients are temporary employees of Auburn University. In the 2018-2019 academic year, we will hold a minimum of two simulated experiences that require the use of SPs. Following the pilot SP simulated experience, additional events may be added to the schedule, allowing for more opportunities to work. Training is usually held two weeks before the simulated experience and can last up to four hours. Most event days, SPs report at 7:30 a.m., and will work until 4:30 p.m.  A minimum commitment would be a half-day of training and one full day of work. SPs are scheduled to work based on the availability they provide, which is done by responding to a Doodle poll.

Would the students know that I am not a real patient?
Yes, the students are aware that you are not a real patient. Students are told to perform histories, interviews, and physical examinations as they would with real patients.

How will I know what to say and do as a Standardized Patient?
Standardized Patients receive their assigned case in advance of the training so that they have time to review the materials. On the training day, the case will be reviewed with the SPs assigned to that case and a faculty member who is a content expert. During this time, SPs will take turns role-playing the case and receiving feedback so that we can standardize the portrayals as much as possible. The case materials will contain all of the needed information about the case, including what the SP can say to the student nurse, and the patient’s appropriate attire and emotional state. Other information provided, when pertinent, include family history, type of employment, or hobbies.

Will there be a physical examination? Will I need to remove my clothes?
Yes, all SP encounters with student nurses will require a non-invasive physical examination.  Most commonly, that consists of checking blood pressure, listening to heart and lungs, and checking the skin. In some instances, the SP may be required to wear a hospital gown, other cases simply require street clothes. The School of Nursing does not currently conduct invasive exams.

Do I need to know a lot about medicine?
No. Your patient case will contain all of the information you need.

Is my previous health history important?
Perhaps. A SP with previous cardiac issues, for example, would not be assigned to portray a heart patient. However, this person could be assigned to another case.

Will I have to grade the student?
SPs will not grade the student at this point in our program.  SP encounters are being incorporated into our undergraduate nursing program for simulated clinical experiences.  Students receive feedback during the debriefing session immediately following the experience, which is conducted by faculty trained in debriefing methodologies.  As our SP program grows and is incorporated into the Master’s program, SP’s may be expected to grade the student.

What if I am related to a SON student?
If you are related to or have a close relationship with a SON student, you will not be scheduled to work the event for that student’s class. Any close relationships with a SON student must be disclosed to the SP Supervisor prior to event scheduling.

What else should I know about being a Standardized Patient?
This is not an easy job. It requires concentration, consistency, recall, and the ability to interact with students in an unbiased manner. Punctuality and reliability are mandatory, and a high energy level is necessary to provide consistent performance over the duration of the event. SPs should be willing to be videotaped for educational purposes, be comfortable with their own health and with being touched by students, must keep all case material confidential, be able to take feedback in a positive manner and make adjustments based on feedback, and have a desire to contribute to the education of future nurses.

I’m still interested and think I meet your qualifications. What next?
If you are still interested, please complete the Standardized Patient Interest Survey, link below. This will be reviewed by the SP Supervisor. Once we have reviewed your responses, we will contact you if we think you meet the needs of our program. You may be invited to an information session, or training session.  You will have the opportunity to indicate your availability for the different event dates, and we will select SPs based upon our needs for each particular event. If you are selected to join our Standardized Patient program you will complete employment documentation through the Auburn University office of Temporary Employment Services.


To complete the Standardized Patient Interest Survey, please click HERE