5.5: Standardized Patient Teaching and Assessment Activities

The Standardized Patient Program (SPP) offers clinical skills training for medical students throughout the four-year curriculum with activities designed to provide a simulated setting for the instruction and assessment of the clinical, cross-cultural, and interpersonal skills of medical students. The use of Standardized Patients (SPs) is a proven method for helping learners gain skills in communication, interviewing, physical exam, counseling, and patient management in a safe and supportive environment in preparation for clinical encounters. The SPP supports the Stanford University School of Medicine’s commitment to produce medical professionals who apply competent and compassionate clinical skills in the care of patients and promote health care that appropriately responds to social, cultural, and health system contexts within which care is delivered. 

Many aspects of the real clinical world can be evoked using specially trained actors to portray patients with health conditions or concerns. Stanford Medicine SPs undergo extensive training that allows them to provide a consistent and pre-defined account of their condition and answer the full spectrum of questions learners may have about them as a patient from a faculty-written patient case. Additionally, SPs are trained to provide rich verbal and written feedback to aid in students’ learning and development and are an integral part of summative assessments of learners’ clinical skills including history-taking, physical exam, clinical reasoning, patient education and counseling, and patient-provider interaction.

Students are expected to demonstrate all attributes associated with the School of Medicine Professionalism Principles and follow the School of Medicine Dress Code Guidelines for the Clinical Setting while working with the SPs and the faculty and staff associated with the program.

updated August 2023