• The Standardized Patient Program

    Learn more about how standardized patients play an integral role in education at ACOM.

The Standardized Patient Program is an important part of the curriculum at the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM). Standardized Patients (SPs) play an integral role in helping students enhance skills in setting patients at ease, obtaining key aspect of medical history and recent symptoms, and clinical reasoning toward a treatment plan. For more information about the Standardized Patient Program, please contact Renee Woodham, LPN, Director of the Clinical Competency Center at (334) 944-4039.

What is a Standardized Patient?

“The Simulated/Standardized Patient (SP) is a person who has been carefully coached to simulate an actual patient so accurately that the simulation cannot be detected by a skilled clinician. In performing the simulation, the SP presents the gestalt of the patient being simulated; not just the history, but the body language, the physical findings and the emotional and personality characteristics as well” (Howard Barrows, MD). SPs are typically members of the community who are interested in making a contribution to medical education, enjoy working with people and are able to perform consistently within their assigned character or role.

Requirements for Standardized Patients

Men and women of all ages and ethnic groups are needed to represent the wide variety of cases that are used to simulate different patient histories, personalities and symptoms. Acting experience is not necessary but a good short-term memory is required because SPs must perform consistently within their assigned roles. They may be asked to recall 10-20 aspects of their case during their encounters with our medical students and then, immediately after, accurately respond to a survey on student performance. Since this information is often recorded electronically, basic computer skills are required. In addition, SPs need to feel comfortable in front of video cameras, since most encounters are recorded.

During an interaction with a student the SP may:

  • present case history in response to questioning by the student
  • undergo a limited physical examination at the student’s direction
  • assist students in developing their communication and clinical skills
  • prepare students in working with a diverse group of patients
  • assist students in working through difficult emotional situations in a safe environment

Once ACOM faculty select cases for a training or testing event, criteria such as age, gender, race, and physical and personality characteristics are considered in the selection SPs from our registry. This carefully selected set of SPs are then presented with a patient case/script and brought into the center for training and role-playing.

Payment for Participation

SPs are paid $16.00 per hour for training and for their work. Some projects requiring more experience and skills are paid at a higher rate. SPs are employed on a contract basis and are not offered benefits. The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine cannot guarantee work beyond that agreed to on a single project basis.

Apply to be a Standardized Patient

The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) is continually accepting applications for the Standardized Patient Program to build its pool of patient actors. To apply for the program, please click the application link at the bottom of this paragraph to download the PDF form, complete it and email the completed form to acomsp@acomedu.org. All fields denoted with a red asterisk are required. ACOM will review your application and then contact you regarding the Standardized Patient Program orientation. If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Renee Woodham, LPN, Director of the Clinical Competency Center, at (334) 944-4039.

Standardized Patient Application – Download and Apply!