Office of Medical
Education (OME)

Standardized Patient Program:
Information for Standardized Patients (SPs)

Andrew Nevins and two standardized patientsThe Stanford Standardized Patient Program hires professional actors, community theater actors, and people with no acting experience.  Sometimes we hire people who have interesting medical histories and who have real physical findings. In the past we have employed librarians, schoolteachers, retired college professors, airline employees, medical technicians, retired businesspeople, college students, accountants, and homemakers. We currently employ over 60 standardized patients (SPs) aged 18-80.  Many of the standardized patient cases are simple and do not require professional theater training; some are more complex and require more specialized preparation.  We are also looking for standardized patients who speak languages other than English.

three standardized patients laughing in break room

SPs might work anywhere from two to ten hours a day.  The average activity, however, is five hours.  A typical student/SP encounter lasts 20 minutes, followed by a 10-minute period in which SPs fill out evaluation checklists and/or provide oral feedback.  On a given day, an SP might interact with two to eight students, depending on the kind of exercise.  Usually the students perform non-invasive physical exams (such as exams of the heart, lungs, throat, eyes, abdomen, neurological system, etc.).  For most, but not all exercises, SPs wear underwear and a patient gown.  There are no invasive exams.  For heart exams, SPs need to be comfortable with students placing a stethoscope directly on the skin.  For women, this might involve either sliding the bra to the side or taking the bra off.  Students are expected to touch SPs in a professional clinical manner.

standardized patients in monitor room

SPs usually work in the exam room with a single student.  Generally, the encounters are videotaped.  Sometimes a faculty member or other monitor will observe an encounter over a video monitor.  The tapes are used for later student and faculty review of the exercises.  They are also used for quality control, to ensure that SPs portray the cases accurately.

We are looking for SPs who have a genuine interest in helping students improve their skills and who derive personal satisfaction from contributing to the students’ medical education. 

two camera SP shoot at the VA

SP work is not a full-time activity. Interested candidates will be interviewed. Once accepted, they are considered casual employees rather than permanent Stanford employees. If you are interested in being a Standardized Patient at Stanford, please email your photo and resume to Elias Escobedo at Please include in your email the approximate hours you are available to work.



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