The Destination for Pharmacy Education

Division of Academic Programs

Standardized Patient Program Information

A Standardized Patient (or Person), also referred to as a SP, is an individual trained to consistently portray a specific patient, caregiver, or healthcare provider during an Objective, Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) or Performance-Based Assessment (PBA).
Students work with real patients and healthcare providers during their clinical experiences under pharmacy faculty supervision. However, when it comes to assessing the clinical skills of our students, we need individuals who can portray the patient/provider/caregiver described within a case in a consistent and standardized manner.
We are looking for adults of all ages, physical types, ethnic groups, and backgrounds to portray the various types of individuals represented in the cases. We need people who can memorize their role, remain focused on the task at hand for long durations, are strong communicators, can learn quickly, accept direction and feedback, and are comfortable using multiple forms of technology. A high energy level and positive attitudes are required as the testing days can be long. Computer proficiency is a mandatory requirement, as SPs will be required to set up accounts on multiple web-based platforms, and navigate as appropriate to provide availability, access case materials, and grade students.
SPs must have a wide range of skills. SPs will be trained to role-play with faculty and students, requiring them to be comfortable working with a varied group of people. HSOP clinical exams do require SPs, at times, to be touched and examined by students. SPs are also responsible for providing written feedback to students, so strong written and verbal communication skills are required. Lastly, the timeframe for clinical assessments is rigorous and in-flux. It is imperative that SPs are punctual, reliable, and flexible.
Standardized Patients are temporary employees of Auburn University. In the fall of 2017, HSOP implemented a new Practice-Ready Curriculum which includes at least two PBA exams per student group per semester. This will allow for multiple opportunities to work. Training is usually held the week before the exam and can last up to two hours per case. Most exam days, SPs report at 7:30 a.m., and will work until anywhere between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. A minimum commitment would be an hour of training and one full day of exam work. SPs are scheduled to work based on the availability they provide to the Standardized Patient Supervisor via an online survey platform and based on the needs of the clinical assessment.
Yes, the students are aware that you are not a real patient. Students are told to perform histories, interviews, and physical examinations as they would with real patients.
Standardized Patients receive their assigned case in advance of the training so that they have time to review the materials. On the training day, the case will be reviewed with the SPs assigned to that case and a faculty member who is a content expert. During this time, SPs will take turns role-playing the case and receiving feedback so that we can standardize the portrayals as much as possible. The case materials will contain all of the needed information about the case, including what the SP can say to the student pharmacist, and the patientÕs appropriate attire and emotional state. Other information provided, when pertinent, include family history, type of employment, or hobbies.
In some cases, there may be limited physical examinations. Most commonly, that consists only of checking blood pressure, listening to heart and lungs, and checking the skin. In some instances, the SP may be required to wear a hospital gown, but most cases simply require street clothes. HSOP does not currently conduct invasive exams.
No. Your patient case will contain all of the information you need.
Perhaps. A SP with previous cardiac issues, for example, would not be assigned to portray a heart patient. However, this person could be assigned to another case.
Standardized Patients will be involved in grading the student. SPs take turns acting and grading encounters. When the SP is in the acting role, they will complete a communication rubric after each encounter using an iPad. When the SP is in the grading role, they will monitor the encounter by video while completing an analytical checklist on the computer, indicating whether the student completed certain expected items.
To protect both the confidentiality of students and the exam materials, we do not employ individuals who are related to current pharmacy students. If you are not related but have a close relationship with a HSOP student, you will not be scheduled to work the exam for that studentÕs class. Any close relationships with a HSOP student must be disclosed to the Standardized Patient Supervisor prior to exam scheduling.
The way HSOP conducts PBA exams is very fast paced. Typically, there are only two minutes between students. This means that SPs, acting for the encounter, have less than two minutes to complete their communication rubric on an iPad. SPs must quickly become comfortable with the assessment content so that they can provide specific feedback in a timely manner. SPs who are in the observation role must be able to quickly log into the grading program and be able to find their student.
This is not an easy job. It requires concentration, consistency, recall, and the ability to assess students in an unbiased manner. Punctuality and reliability are mandatory, and a high energy level is necessary to provide consistent performance over the duration of the exam. SPs should be willing to be videotaped for educational purposes, and be comfortable with their own health and with being touched by students. In addition, SPs must keep all case material confidential, consistently portray the case as trained, be able to take feedback in a positive manner and make adjustments based on feedback, and have a desire to contribute to the education of future pharmacists. SPs who are not able to meet these expectations may not be scheduled for future exams.
If you are still interested, please complete the Standardized Patient Interest Survey, linked below. This will be reviewed by the Standardized Patient Supervisor. Once we have reviewed your responses, we will contact you if we think you meet the needs of our program. You may be invited to an information session, interview, or training session. You will have the opportunity to indicate your availability for the different exam dates, and we will select SPs based upon our needs for each particular exam. If you are selected to join our Standardized Patient program, you will complete employment documentation through the Auburn University office of Temporary Employment Services. All new SPs must attend a mandatory Intensive Training session, offered twice each year, before being allowed to work. Attendance at an annual Intensive Training is mandatory for all SPs to continue to work.

To complete the Standardized Patient Interest Survey, please click HERE.

Standardized Patient Supervisor Contact Information:

Kathy Kyle

Last Updated: January 03, 2022