Office of Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Standardized Patient Program Information

What is a Standardized Patient?
A Standardized Patient, or SP, is an individual trained to consistently portray a specific patient during an Objective, Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE).

Why do you need Standardized Patients?
Students work with real patients during their clinical experiences under pharmacy faculty supervision. However, when it comes to assessing the clinical skills of our students, we need individuals who can portray the patient and the case in a consistent and standardized manner.

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 testing 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. HSOP clinical exams do required SPs, at times, to be touched and examined by students. SPs are also responsible for providing written feedback to students, so strong written and verbal communication skills are required.  Lastly, the timeframe for clinical assessments is rigorous and in-flux. 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 2016-2017 academic year, we will hold clinical exams three times and some of these exam periods extend over multiple days. Beginning in the fall of 2017, additional exam events may be added to the schedule, allowing for more opportunities to work. Training is usually held the week before the exam and can last up to four hours. Most exam days, SPs report at 7:30 a.m., and will work until anywhere between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Exam days in Mobile may be just a half day. A minimum commitment would be a half-day of training and one half-day of exam work in Mobile or two full, consecutive days of exam work in Auburn. SPs are scheduled to work based on the availability they provide to the Office of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, 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 pharmacist, 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?
In some cases, there may be limited physical examinations. Most commonly, that consists only 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, but most cases simply requires street clothes. HSOP 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?
Standardized patients will be involved in grading the student. SPs take turns acting and grading encounters. When the SP is in the acting role, they will complete a communication checklist after each encounter. When the SP is in the grading role, they will monitor the encounter by video while completing an analytical checklist on the computer, indicating whether the student completed certain expected items.

What if I am related to a HSOP student?
If you are related to or have a close relationship with a HSOP student, you will not be scheduled to work the exam for that student’s class. Any close relationships with a HSOP student must be disclosed to the Standardized Patient Supervisor prior to exam 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 assess 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 exam. 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 pharmacists.

I’m still interested and think I meet your qualifications. What next?
If you are still interested, please complete the Standardized Patient Interest Survey, linked below. This will be reviewed by the Standardized Patient Supervisor on the appropriate campus. 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 exam dates, and we will select SPs based upon our needs for each particular exam. 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.

Standardized Patient Supervisor Contact Information:

Auburn Campus:
Kathy Kyle

Mobile Campus:
Marian Williams

Last Updated: April 10, 2017