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Standardized Patient Program

Standardized Patients or for short SPs, are healthy people who have been carefully coached to simulate an actual patient so that the simulation cannot be detected by a skilled clinician.  In performing the simulation, the SP will act out the patient being simulated, including their history, background information, body language, physical findings as well as their emotional and personality characteristics.  The SP is also trained on giving effective feedback to the 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 student’s interviewing skills, physical exam skills and interpersonal communication skills.

The mission of the program is to support and deliver high-quality SP programming to aid in the training and assessment of learners at various stages in their medical education.  We are committed to the idea that simulation using SPs is essential to enhancing the learner’s clinical and interpersonal skills, helps deepen their awareness of patient needs, and emphasizes the importance of the human element in medical education.

Since opening our doors in 2005, our SP program has grown with over 300 active SPs from Sudbury and Thunder Bay.  Our pool of SPs range in age from 15-85, as well as in gender and ethnicity.  They are readily available to provide faculty and learners with opportunities to teach, assess, and learn new and refine old skills, including communication, interview, diagnostic and other clinical skills.

The SP program utilizes SPs on campus for teaching, demonstrating, assessment and remediation.  On campus, the SPs can be involved in the training of health-care professionals within the Northern Ontario School of Medicine Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Interprofessional Education programs.


Requesting a Standardized Patient

SPs may be booked by any faculty member, tutor, or preceptor affiliated with an accredited program within the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.  The request must be supported and approved by their program director (or equivalent).

Advantages of booking a Standardized Patient

SPs are:

Valid:  SPs are comparable to a real patient.  They co-create an imaginary world that feels, sounds and looks as real as if it were the world of an actual patient.

Available:  SPs can be available at any time and any place.

Reliable:  SPs can portray the same symptoms, character and give the same information repeatedly, making all aspects of their portrayal stable.

Controllable:  The setting, level of difficulty and amount of information given or withheld from the learner can be controlled.

Adaptable:  The simulation can be timed out or portions repeated for different opportunities.

Able to give feedback:  SPs provide immediate constructive feedback to the learner from the patient’s perspective.

Risk-free:  Using SPs provide a safe environment for the learners.  Learners don’t have to be concerned with inconveniencing, harming or causing discomfort to the patients.

Types of Learning Sessions

Our SPs can be involved in different types of learning sessions, such as:

  • Medical history
  • Counselling
  • Hybrid mannequin procedures
  • Clinical exams/procedures
  • Physical exams/procedures
  • Management
  • High fidelity simulations

It should be noted that our SPs are not to be used for invasive procedures.

We have a variety of SPs who are experienced in portraying patients in the following areas:

  • Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, manic, schizophrenic.
  • Breaking bad news
  • Difficult patient
  • Angry patient
  • Cross-cultural interviewing such as using an interpreter, different religion and ethnicity.
  • Domestic violence
  • Crossing boundaries patient such as flirty, over-talkative.
  • Pain
  • Informed consent
  • Medical error disclosure
  • Sexuality


 It is the responsibility of the requestor to provide their own case. 


For props, depending on the nature of your request, we have a small collection of props that may be used.

For makeup, we can apply simple make-up applications such as:

  • bruises
  • burns
  • scars
  • rashes
  • pallor
  • abrasions
  • redness
  • swelling

Any other make-up requests should be discussed with the Standardized Patient Program Coordinator.

Booking a Standardized Patient

All SP booking requests must be submitted electronically, using our Standardized Patient Request form.

We require a minimum notice of 4 to 6 weeks for booking a SP.  Once the request is received, the Standardized Patient Program Coordinator will review the needs and respond to the requestor.

Each request will be reviewed to determine our involvement.  The Standardized Patient Professional reserves the right to decline any request based on scheduling conflicts, lack of resources or failure to meet request deadlines. 


Please contact the Standardized Patient Program Coordinator regarding rate of pay.   

Providing feedback to the Program about the Standardized Patient

We would appreciate it greatly if you would fill out our Quality Assurance Form to give us some feedback.  We would appreciate feedback on the Standardized Patient’s:

  • Preparedness
  • Portrayal
  • Professionalism

The form will be reviewed by the Standardized Patient Program Coordinator and issues identified will be addressed as necessary.

Quality Assurance Form for Laurentian/Sudbury

Quality Assurance Form for Lakehead/Thunder Bay

Contacting Program Coordinators

Give us a shout…we look forward to talking with you!

Kelly Merla
Interim Standardized Patient Coordinator
NOSM University
(Laurentian University campus)
phone: 705-662-7255

Erica Dzuba
Standardized Patient Coordinator
NOSM University
(Lakehead University campus)
phone: 807-766-7335