Standardized Patient Program

Standardized Patients are individuals hired to portray patients in order to assist students in developing interpersonal skills. They play a critical role in reminding students to treat each patient with the whole-person approach. Standardized Patients (SPs) have become an essential part of Campbell Med’s curriculum.

Become a Standardized Patient

As a Standardized Patient you should:

  • Be comfortable with their health and dealing with health professionals.
  • Be willing to be videotaped for educational purposes.
  • Not have any biases against anyone based on their gender, race, religion, national origin, physical characteristics, etc. They also should not have a bias against the medical profession.
  • Be reliable and punctual to scheduled events.
  • Keep all case information confidential.
  • Repeatedly portray a patient case with accuracy as trained by CUSOM faculty or staff.
  • Improvise in the moment based on case details.
  • Remember what the student who examined you did and then record it on a checklist.
  • Have strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Be comfortable working with a computer and using email.
  • Want to contribute to the training process of excellent physicians.

Standardized Patients are hired through the Campbell University Employment Office.  Candidates for our Standardized Patient Program are required to attend an orientation session. Upon selection, you will be invited to additional training session(s). Once completed, we’ll partner with you to participate in scenarios based on criteria.

No. We hire former teachers, nurses, social workers, etc. This work has nothing to do with creating big dramatic moments or playing to an audience. It has everything to do with playing a role that fits the needs of the scenario designed to assess the students’ clinical and interpersonal communication skills. When working as an SP, it is important that you portray the case exactly the same way for every student who interviews you.

Yes, the students are aware that you are SPs and are told to proceed just as they would with a real patient while doing their interviews and physical examinations.

SPs provide a safe and controlled learning environment to prepare for real patient encounters. A large number of students can interview an SP in the course of a day and each time the SP can behave as though it were the first time in the clinic for the same complaint. Thus, every student gets the chance to demonstrate his/her clinical skills in the same situation. It makes it a fair exam and learning experience for everyone.

Upon being cast as a particular patient, you will receive a script detailing the patient’s symptoms, their past medical and family history, and their lifestyle/social history.

For patient cases that require no physical examination, SPs wear street clothes. If the students are expected to perform a physical examination, you may be required to wear a hospital gown. The cases that require these physical examinations are clearly outlined for SPs prior to their agreement to participate in them.

No, SP work does not require students to draw any bodily fluids.

Yes. The examinations are very basic and do not cause any harm to the Standardized Patient. All encounters are videotaped and most interactions are observed as they happen.

No, faculty ultimately decide whether or not the student passed the exercise. Part of your job as an SP is to record the events of the encounter on a checklist to help score the students.

SP shifts are contingent on curriculum schedules, and therefore, can be rather sporadic. There are seasons when the work is more frequent and other times when it is nonexistent. The months of December, April, and May are most busy.

No. Standardized Patient work requires a specific set of skills. 

Selections of the Standardized Patients are based on the needs of the curriculum using specific criteria based on age, gender, health status and life experiences, which relate to the conditions being portrayed. Expectations of Standardized Patients are as follows:

  • Training for a case portrayal; 2-6 hours depending on the complexity and purpose of the session with the medical students
  • Sessions with students, typically last 30-60 minutes and patients are asked to work daily between 2 and 8 hours when testing is occurring
  • When the curriculum is fully implemented, student-doctors will be tested on the average of 1 to 2 days each month.


For more information, contact the Department of Simulation Medicine.
Phone: 910-893-1753