General Information

The Standardized Patient Program at the  KU School of MedicineWichita is a dynamic part of the pre-doctoral and resident training programs in Wichita. The program is used to provide medical students and residents the opportunity to learn and demonstrate a variety of patient care, communication, and interpersonal skills in a safe, controlled environment. It also is used to prepare medical students for the clinical skills section of the USMLE Step II exam, which they must pass in order to move forward in their professional careers.

Who and what are Standardized Patients?
How does a Standardized Patient encounter work?

How is the program utilized? | What services does the program offer?

Who and what are Standardized Patients?

Standardized Patients (SPs) are people who have been carefully coached and trained to simulate an actual patient. They portray the entire person -- not just the history, but also the body language, physical findings, emotions, and personality characteristics of the patient. Standardized Patients may not have any prior medical knowledge, come from all backgrounds, and represent ages and physical types. Through their patient portrayals, SPs help in teaching new skills, refining old skills, and evaluating learners, further enabling medical school to assess where to focus a student’s education and to verify that students are ready to begin practice.

Standardized Patients are used to help students learn interpersonal and communication skills as well as how to examine patients and solve medical problems in a safe environment. For example, students can practice challenging situations such as ethical dilemmas, delivering bad news, communicating with angry or upset patients, and dealing with medical emergencies. At the end of each encounter when the student is most ready to learn, both the SP and the faculty members give the student feedback on how to improve. The students also can watch video recordings of their performances.

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How does a Standardized Patient encounter work?

An SP encounter is usually designed to seem very much like the experiences students have when they work with actual patients. The encounter typically takes place in a clinic exam room and the SP and student work through a clinical scenario as if it were a real patient-doctor visit. The student receives prior information appropriate to the encounter, usually some idea of why the “patient” has come to see a physician, test results or information from past visits by this patient, etc. Sometimes the encounter is a straight-forward check to see if students can diagnose and manage a particular disease or problem. Other times, it is something more challenging, such as dealing with an angry patient or delivering bad news. After seeing the patient, students must write a post-encounter note describing the subjective and objective data they collected, their assessment of the patient, and a management plan. 

After the encounter, students receive written and verbal feedback from both the patient and from faculty observers. Additionally, all of the clinical encounters are digitally recorded so students can revisit their cases later. The post-encounter feedback is a very powerful teaching tool and helps students master challenging aspects of being a physician in a safe and controlled environment.

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How is the program utilized?

Standardized Patient encounters are used in several clerkships and feedback is provided in several formats. Many of the SP encounters are designed to develop students’ ability to manage a patient encounter:

  • Using the time efficiently
  • Asking pertinent, useful questions
  • Using the data they collect to make logical management or treatment decisions
  • Using important resources such as translators or online treatment protocols

In addition to using SPs to teach, the program also is part of the evaluation of the students. Standardized Patient encounters are a significant part of Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs). The Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA), which all students take at the end of their third year, is comprised entirely of SP encounters. Both of these exams are graded and used to determine student progress.

Residency programs also use the Standardized Patient program. Standardized Patient encounters have become a part of some programs’ interview process for new residents, and programs are starting to use SP encounters as tools for teaching or assessing their residents. Additionally, programs are using the Standardized Patient program as an opportunity to get their residents involved in teaching; residents are now part of their teaching teams when medical students do SP encounters as part of their clerkships.

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What services does the program offer?

The Standardized Patient program offers services in all aspects of the development and delivery of SP encounters.

  • Our medical director and educational specialist work with faculty members to develop and evaluate cases to ensure educational goals are met. Our experienced training staff help ensure the encounter will be valid and consistent and faculty receive all necessary support.
  • We can recruit and facilitate training SPs for cases. Faculty involvement is encouraged to create ideal patients.
  • We can help develop the assessment tools that accompany the case, including the development of checklists for evaluation by the SPs and checklists and descriptive evaluation tools for faculty evaluators, etc.
  • We offer a variety of ways to analyze data and information resulting from encounters. Reports can be provided on student performance, patient performance, inter-rater reliability, case performance over time, item discrimination, etc. These can be used to evaluate students and provide curriculum feedback such as the specific areas in which many students may be challenged.
  • Standardized Patient encounters may occur in our dedicated exam rooms, or they may occur in a regular classroom setting.
  • All encounters in our exam rooms may be digitally recorded. These videos are accessible via the web and may be accessed any time by students and faculty. We also can collect a series of encounters and burn them to DVD so students or faculty may have a hard copy.

These services are available to clerkships and residency programs associated with the KU School of Medicine and to outside educational programs. Please contact Kris Roudebush at 316-293-3511 or kroudebush@kumc.edu for more information. Click here to view the Service Fees.

Last modified: Mar 27, 2015
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