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Becoming A Standardized Patient

A SP is a healthy person who has been carefully coached to simulate an actual patient so accurately that the simulation cannot be detected by a skilled clinician. In performing the simulation, the SP presents the gestalt of the patient being simulated; not just the history, but the body language, the physical findings, and the emotional and personality characteristics as well. They are also trained on how to provide effective feedback to learners, from a patient’s perspective. Feedback is one of the most important skills of the SP. They are used to help teach and assess students interviewing skills, physical exam skills and interpersonal communication skills.

What qualities make a good SP?

  • Accuracy in memorization of case details
  • Ability to follow instructions
  • Observant
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Lack of bias towards the health care system
  • Reliability and punctuality
  • Ability to work with others
  • Comfort with role playing and providing feedback in a small group setting

Who is eligible?

Anyone between the ages 15-85 who is eligible to work in Canada can apply to be a standardized patient. Applicants must be available during the weekdays and have a flexible schedule. NOSM employees are generally not eligible to work as standardized patients.

Do I have to be an actor?

No. You can be a very good SP without ever having been on stage or screen. All training is provided, however, you must be comfortable performing in front of a small group.

What types of physical examinations would be done?

They would be very common examinations similar to what you might see in a doctor’s office. None of the examinations involve taking blood or any other samples. The learners do NOT complete breast, genital, and rectal examinations except under very specific prearranged circumstances. There is no pressure on you to participate in any physical examination if you do not wish to do so.

How often would I work?

The amount of SP work available is irregular, and SPs are not guaranteed a fixed minimum or maximum number of hours of work. On average, SPs contribute about five hours in a given week of their time every 4 – 6 weeks. SPs participation can be more or less based on the needs of the program and the patient demographics requested.

How much does SP work pay?

SPs are paid between $10.00 – $20.00/hr for training and for their work sessions. Some physical exam sessions are paid at a higher rate. SPs are not employees of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. They are considered independent contractors and therefore are not entitled to benefits and taxes are not deducted from payments.

What else should I know about being a SP?

Being a SP is NOT easy and NOT for everyone. It requires concentration while being interviewed and examined. When the encounter is over, you must be able to remember what the learner said and did and then provide verbal feedback to the student based on their communications skills.

How does one become a Standardized Patient?

Applications are always accepted, but the program may not be actively hiring at the time. The program does the bulk of its hiring once a year in late spring and throughout the summer in preparation for the school year in September. There are several components to our hiring process including a phone interview, onsite group interview and a required multi-day orientation. These activities allow for a thorough assessment of suitability for the program.

If you wish to become an SP, please complete the application form. Once submitted, you may be contacted. Should you require more information about the program please contact one of the Clinical Skills / Standardized Patient Program Coordinators below:

Yolette Brant
Thunder Bay 
Erica Dzuba