Standardized Patient Program

Interested in becoming an SP?

If you are interested in becoming an SP, fill out and submit the SP Application.

View the application

Welcome to the Clinical Skills and Simulation Center (CSSC) Standardized Patient (SP) Program information page! Please review the information about our program below.

What is a Standardized Patient?

An SP is a person trained to portray a patient scenario, or an actual patient using their own history and physical exam findings, for the instruction, assessment or practice of communication and/or examining skills of a health care provider. In the health and medical sciences, SPs are used to provide a safe and supportive environment conducive for learning of for standardized assessment".

From: Association of Standardized Patient Educators (ASPE) website.
Written by: Gayle Gliva-McConvey, BA
Director, Theresa A. Thomas Professional Skills Center
Eastern Virginia Medical School
Chair, standards of Practice Committee

Who are our SPs?

Our SPs come from a variety of backgrounds, including retired teachers and lawyers. To become an SP at CSSC, no acting experience is required. Only a handful of our SPs are professional actors.

Qualities of our CSSC Standardized Patients:

  • Punctuality is important for the reputation of CSSC. It is mandatory that you arrive at CSSC 30 minutes prior to the start of the performance (NOT training).  This is unpaid time to prepare your room, equipment and paperwork for the session.  It also gives CSSC staff time to communicate last-minute client changes.  Unforeseen circumstances arise for everyone, but punctuality is a professional courtesy for our learners.  If there is a pattern of tardiness, you will be asked to speak with one of the SP trainers. A pattern of tardiness may impact your selection for events.
  • Confidentiality: No learner or other participant performances are to be discussed with anyone by name or identifying specifics other than with the CSSC SP Program Coordinators. We must maintain total privacy for the learners at all times.
  • Flexibility: We value the ability to adapt quickly to changes and working with changes.
  • Consistent High-Quality Performances: Our best SPs understand the performance standards and details necessary to accurately portray cases and provide meaningful learner evaluations. This also includes working to improve performances based on SP trainer feedback.

SP Scheduling

The CSSC's main method of communication is email. The SP coordinators will send out a "role call" email for a program up to one month in advance. The schedule is completed based on a "first come, first serve" basis, as well as consideration for the amount of work given lately. Confirmation of program participation is sent out via email. Work as an SP at CSSC can be sporadic and averages at most, ten hours per month.

SP Pay

As an SP at CSSC, you are considered a "study participant" and are paid at an hourly rate. This status does not allow for benefits. You will be paid for training and performance hours. A check will be mailed to your main address after a program ends.

Additional Information

Gowns: For our programs with a physical exam component, SPs are required to wear a hospital gown. Female SPs are permitted to wear jogging shorts and a sports bra underneath their gowns. Male SPs are permitted to wear jogging shorts underneath their gowns.

Video recording: Most of our simulated patient encounters are recorded for quality assurance purposes. In addition, the recordings are often used for learners' self-reflective writing assignments.

Non-invasive physical exams: Some of our programs have a physical exam component. However, none of the exams are invasive. Examples of exams that might take place are cardiopulmonary, abdominal or neurological. SPs are not required to participate in programs with physical exams.

Next Steps

If you are interested in becoming an SP, you'll need to fill out and submit the SP Application. We will contact you to schedule your SP orientation here at the CSSC. Orientations are 2 hours long and are scheduled quarterly at the discretion of the program coordinators. You are not compensated for orientation only for training and performances.