Standardized Patient Program

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What is a Standardized Patient?

At the Midwestern University Clinical Skills and Simulation Center, we use the term “Standardized Patient” or “SP”.   The definition of a Standardized Patient is: 

  • An individual who has been carefully coached to simulate a patient including the history, physical findings, body language, and emotional or personality characteristics.
  • An individual trained to portray a patient with a specific condition in a realistic, standardized, and repeatable way and where portrayal/presentation varies based only on learner performance.
  • SPs can be used for teaching and assessment of learners, including but not limited to history/consultation, physical examination, and other clinical skills in simulated clinical environments. SPs can also be used to give feedback and evaluate learner performance.

The following characteristics are important to be a successful SP:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Accuracy in memorizing case details
  • Ability to follow instructions and take direction
  • Ability to realistically portray a patient including various levels of pain, anxiety, etc
  • Strong recall skills to remember what the learner asked/did and accurately complete an evaluation checklist
  • Ability to evaluate the learner on interpersonal skills
  • Provide unbiased, constructive, professional verbal and written feedback to learners

SPs play a wide variety of roles at Midwestern University.  These may include portraying a focused ailment (such as abdominal pain, a rash, a cough), playing a chronic illness (such as diabetes, high blood pressure), portraying an abuse victim, or someone recovering from surgery or stroke with physical, occupational, or speech language therapy, or being counseled on over-the-counter or prescribed medications.   With each encounter, SPs strive to portray each patient with dignity and authenticity.

In working with SPs, learners have a safe environment in which to learn and practice their skills.  SPs are an important part of the education of future health care practitioners and they can feel good about the work they do in healthcare education. 


  • Individuals ages 18 and older.
  • General daytime availability Monday through Friday to work in 2-hour increments and up to 9-hour increments.
  • Proficient in speaking, writing, and understanding the English language.
  • Access to the internet via computer, tablet, or smart phone to respond to emails, attend virtual trainings, and review case materials.
  • Essential functions needed include seeing, hearing, sitting, standing, and walking. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
  • All SPs are (as needed) part time employees of the University and thus must pass a criminal background check, pre-employment physical examination, and drug screen.
  • Current Midwestern employees and students are not eligible to work as Standardized Patients.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of learners will I encounter?

Your work as an SP is focused on graduate level (Masters or Doctorate) learners and, at times, post-doctoral medical residents.  We have 9 academic disciplines on our Illinois Campus. View the campus disciplines.

How are SPs trained to work with students?

Our SP Program provides all training and materials needed to deliver accurate role play, perform a student assessment, and convey verbal or written feedback.  All new SP employees are required to attend a new hire orientation before working any shifts as an SP.

As an SP, will I need to remove clothing?

SPs generally wear hospital gowns, shorts, and a conservative bra (females) during student encounters that require the student to practice or perform a physical exam.  At other times, appropriate casual street clothes or patient/character-specific attire is worn. 

What types of examinations or procedures are done on SPs?

Examination techniques are the type you would have typically done at a medical office visit. For example, medical students may listen to heart and lungs with a stethoscope, press on your abdomen to look for tenderness or swelling, take your blood pressure, look into eyes, ears, nose and throat, assess your muscle strength, and check your pulses. Students will not practice giving you injections or collecting blood or other fluid samples. Students will ONLY perform breast, pelvic, or rectal exams on specially trained Standardized Patient Teaching Associates.

How often would I get to work?

We hire for each SP encounter based on the needs of the event so it can vary widely, and there are busy seasons and slower seasons. You may go a month without being offered a shift, or you may get offered 20-25 hours in one week.  In addition, the amount an SP works is also based on their personal availability for shifts. 

Is there a regular schedule?

There is not. Expect your schedule as an SP to vary.

What is the pay?

Our SPs are compensated at a market-competitive hourly rate for time spent in training and performance.  Our SPs are considered part-time employees of Midwestern University and are therefore subject to tax withholding and W2.  Pay periods are in 2 week increments for a total of 26 per year. 

How has SP work been impacted by COVID-19?

The Clinical Skills and Simulation Center continues to maintain the highest standards of safety for our SP staff, faculty, and students in accordance with CDC guidelines and local/state requirements.  Currently, face coverings for live SP encounters remains required and enforced.

Becoming A Standardized Patient at Midwestern University

The SP Program holds hiring sessions/interviews for new SPs periodically throughout the year with our primary recruitment in late spring to early summer.  Please be aware that we do not recruit all demographics at each hiring session as we strive to keep a balance of ages, ethnicities, and genders to meet the needs of our academic programs and fill vacancies in our pool.  Once your application is received, we will store it and notify you when we have an upcoming hiring session for which you are eligible.

Inclusiveness and diversity are integral to the Clinical Skills and Simulation Center’s mission to improve patient care and educational outcomes through simulation-based education. We encourage applications from interested candidates that identify with groups that are historically underrepresented in medicine.

To apply to work as an SP for the Clinical Skills and Simulation Center at Midwestern University, please use the link below to fill out the application.

Apply here


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