Simulation Center - Standard Patient Program

What is a Standard Patient?

A Standardized or Standard Patient (SP) is a healthy person trained to portray the personal history, physical symptoms, emotional characteristics, and everyday concerns of an actual patient.

SPs are a dynamic educational tool for a variety of settings such as interactive teaching environments, group demonstrations, clinical examinations, videos or portrayal customized to meet the faculty's needs.

SPs are trained to provide constructive feedback, from the patient's unique perspective, to learners at all levels of training in several health disciplines.

The History of Standard Patients

The first Standardized Patient was conceived by neurologist Dr. Harold Barrows in the 1960s.

Barrows found that the real patients available for teaching and examination were not providing consistent and valuable experiences for his medical students and the patients were often too sick to practice on.

The first Standard Patient program in the U.S. was begun at Southern Illinois University in the late 1960s, and was introduced at Grand Valley State University in the fall of 1998.

The term "standard patient" is used because the goal is to standardize the SP so that various students receive a consistent experience and also can be evaluated based on consistent experiences.

"The Simulated/Standardized Patient (SP) is a 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 aswell."

-Dr. Howard Barrows

Why Use Standard Patients?

Standard Patients offer a safe, professional environment for students to learn, practice, and receive feedback.

Hospitalized patients are significantly more ill now than in years past and the average hospital stay is shorter than it was even five years ago. This makes it more difficult for students to get the variety of experiences necessary for them to develop the confidence and skills required to become a successful practitioner.

SPs play a very important role in providing students the opportunity to develop clinical and communications skills. Simulation also provides a positive educational experience in which students learn to collaborate with multidisciplinary members of the health care team.

Interested in Becoming a Standard Patient? Here's What We Are Looking For:

The Simulation Centers Standard Patients must have the following characteristics:

  • Enjoy working with students
  • A commitment to learning
  • An ability to give the same answers and information repeatedly

Time & Compensation

  • Most Standard Patients work only a few hours a month
  • The hourly rate depends on what type of class you are scheduled to work
  • The time of day you will be asked to work depends on the requests of the faculty
  • Standard Patients are classified as independent contractors. The benefits are compensation for time worked, free parking, and a sense of helping Grand Valley graduate well-prepared health care providers

What to Expect

  • The Standard Patient interaction with students involves communication or a physical assessment
  • Depending on the event, you may be given a case to learn
  • You are never required to share any personal information about yourself or your health history
  • You will not be given any injections or have blood drawn
  • You will never experience anything painful as a Standard Patient

Getting Started

  • If you are interested in becoming a Standard Patient, call or email Standard Patient Coordinator:

Cindy Bartman

Phone: (616) 331-5984

Email: bartmanc

  • When you call, you will be asked to give your phone number, address and email information, and you will be given information and details about our program. We look forward to hearing from you!