Ten Tips for developing a learning experience using Standardized Patients


Student learning experiences can be enhanced by using Standardized Patients (SPs). SP Educators provide support and aid in how best to approach the integration of SPs into courses, as well as scripting roles, delineating learning objectives, training SPs, providing faculty development opportunities and debriefing the simulation experiences.

  1. Identify the need for a simulation learning experience.
    Can you fill that practicum experiential learning gap? If you cannot get the experience in rel life, then something needs to be put in place.
  2. What are your objectives?
    What is it that you want the students to experience and learn? Choose a maximum of 3 objectives.
  3. Recreate a suitable event.
    Some of the best scenarios have been based on real life experiences. Perhaps there are past situations where you would have liked to have performed your first exercise in a safe environment such as a simulation lab.
  4. Draft the script.
    There are many script templates available. Choose a template that suits your program and health profession.
  5. Train the SPs.
    The SP Educator will train the SPs to portray the patient in the role that you have developed, paying particular attention to condition, movement, character and mannerisms, focusing on your learning objectives.
  6. Dry run the simulation.
    Run the scenario with the SP Educator, a facilitator or with each other. Make any necessary changes, additions, and revisions to the scripting.
  7. Pilot an inauguration program.
    Start small - organize an official pre-event practice with SPs, facilitators, and students.
  8. Feedback.
    Explore the many different types of feedback resources that are being used to assist in today's learning activities. Choose the right feedback tools for your simulation. Common types of feedback used in SP simulation include: peer feedback from student participants or observers, expert instructor feedback and SP feedback from the patient's perspective.
  9. Debrief the event.
    Remember that the SP scenario is a teaching tool for the preceptor and that the next phase of learning begins after the role has been played out. Documenting and recording the simulation will help in research and building future programs.
  10. Debrief the Debrief.
    What went well? What could be done better next time? Reflection is a powerful tool.

Petra Duncan, Pam Rock, Sharla King, Renate Kahlke, Health Science Education Commons, Health Science Council, University of Alberta