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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 175 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 Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Interprofessional Education programs.

Who can request 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.

What type of sessions do Standardized Patients participate in?

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

Do I have to supply the case or script?

Yes. It is the responsibility of the requestor to provide their own case.  Northern Ontario School of Medicine does not have a bank of cases that can be shared. 

Do I have to supply the props or make-up?

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.

How do I Book a Standardized Patient?

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

We require a minimum notice of four 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. 

How much does it cost to book a Standardized Patient?

  • Case Training and Dry Run Training for all sessions (1-3 hours maximum)                                  $35
  • Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) Case Training (1-3 hours maximum)            $40
  • History/Interview encounter                                                                                                             $15/hour
  • Physical exam encounter                                                                                                                    $20/hour
  • History/Physical exam encounter                                                                                                     $20/hour
  • Female Breast Exam session                                                                                                              $28.50/hour
  • Male Pelvic/digital rectal/prostate exam                                                                                         $52/hour


Please note that Standardized Patients will be paid a minimum of 1 hour when working as a SP.  Payment will be calculated to the nearest .25( 1/4  hours).   

How do I provide feedback to the program about the Standardized Patient I booked?

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

How can I contact the Program Coordinators?

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

Kelly Merla (NOSM at Laurentian University)
Interim Standardized Patient Coordinator
Northern Ontario School of Medicine
Laurentian University, MS-145
935 Ramsey Lake Road
Sudbury, Ontario  P3E 2C6
phone: 705-662-7255
fax: 705-622-7192

Erica Dzuba (NOSM at Lakehead University)
Standardized Patient Coordinator
Northern Ontario School of Medicine
Lakehead University, MS-1009
955 Oliver Road
Thunder Bay, Ontario   P7B 5E1
phone: 807-766-7335
fax: 807-766-7356