Educational AffairsOffice of Clinical Simulation

What is a Standardized Patient?

A Standardized Patient is a person trained to replicate a clinical encounter consistently and realistically. Standardized Patients provide the medical student an opportunity to fine-tune professional skills, to gain self-confidence and be better able to instill confidence in patients. The student learns to become patient-oriented, more aware of patient feelings and concerns, and most of all, to become an active listener. The ability to listen and understand and communicate this understanding is a skill of significant benefit to medical students, and Standardized Patients play a central role in this process.

The skills that are taught and/or evaluated with Standardized Patients include interpersonal, communication, history-taking, and/or physical examination techniques. Standardize Patients allow medical students to fine-tune their professional skills, to gain self-confidence and be better able to instill confidence in their patients. The Standardized Patient Program at UTMB has 150 individuals ranging in age from 16 to 80 years of age. Standardized Patients are UTMB employees and members of the community or surrounding area who come from all walks of life and share the enjoyment of being able to participate in medical education activities.

How do Standardized Patients enhance education?

Standardized Patients are employed throughout the medical school curriculum for teaching and assessment.

During first year, medical students learn and practice interviewing and physical exam techniques with SPs.

During second year, more advanced interviewing skills are introduced. Second year students also work with specially trained SPs (Teaching Associates) to develop skills in male genitourinary and female breast and pelvic examinations.

Across all four years of training, students participate in clinical skills assessment activities with SPs.

Standardized Patient activities are also part of the curriculum in the School of Nursing and School of Health Professions.