Standardized Patient FAQs

What is a Standardized Patient?

Standardized Patients (SPs) are individuals who participate in simulated doctor-patient encounters at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore Clinical Performance Centre. These individuals are healthy individuals who are carefully trained by the Standardized Patient Program Trainer to portray patients with specific histories, personalities, attitudes and physical findings. The similarity of these portrayals to real patient situations allows the Duke-NUS students to conduct an actual clinic consultation on standardized patients. These simulated doctor-patient encounters are closely monitored under the guidance of the relevant Duke-NUS faculty members and are recorded/ video-taped for the purpose of learning and assessment.

These simulated encounters enhance the development and assessment of essential clinical skills that are fundamental for doctors. The simulated encounter is also a powerful tool for teaching and assessing communication and procedural skills of medical students. Although this is a relatively new concept to Singapore, it has been used broadly and successfully by top medical schools in the US and Canada since the mid-1970’s.

Who can be a Standardized Patient?

Almost anyone can be a Standardized Patient. We are interested in individuals who have a genuine interest in contributing to Duke-NUS students’ medical education and who enjoy communicating and interacting with individuals from different walks of life.

What is required to be a Standardized Patient?

Individuals interested in becoming Standardized Patients should be

  • willing to learn communication skills
  • committed to the program and have a flexible schedule
  • able to read, write and memorize a script in English
  • able to give constructive feedback after training
  • able to reliably and accurately portray the case scenario in a consistent manner
  • comfortable using a computer and mouse for very basic purposes

Is this a voluntary job?

No. Standardized Patients will be employed on a part time basis and will be paid accordingly.

Will the students know I am not a real patient?

Yes. The students are aware that they are seeing an SP; however they are instructed to conduct the interview and examine the SP as if he/she were a real patient.

Do I need to know a lot about medicine?

No. The patient case script will provide you with all the relevant information required for a proper portrayal of the case.

Will the medical students conduct a full body examination?

Some cases will not involve any physical examination. For others, students will perform focused physical exams based on the case. These examinations may include: listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope; pressing on the abdomen, face and neck; taking blood pressure and pulse; checking muscle strength, reflexes and gait. Breast, pelvic, genital, and rectal exams will NOT be performed. No physical examinations will be done without the Standardized Patient’s consent and understanding of what is to be done.

Will I be asked to remove my clothes during the physical examination?

Standardized Patients will be given a gown to wear before any physical examination is being conducted. However, not all case scenarios have physical examinations.

Will the medical students be practicing any form of surgical procedures on me?

No invasive or surgical procedures will be performed on any of the Standardized Patients at any time.

I have a medical condition. Can I still become a Standardized Patient?

Yes. If you are not in the acute stage of the disease, you are still eligible to participate in our Standardized Patient Program. It is important that interested applicants provide accurate information about their health and medical conditions when applying for the Standardized Patient Program. Each case has specific requirements and informing us thoroughly of your medical condition will help us better match you with a suitable case.

Will I be required to assess the medical students?

Yes, you will be required to fill out a check list after the session noting what skills the student did or didn’t do. You may also be expected to provide feedback to the medical students directly depending on the program. You will receive comprehensive training by the CPC Director and the SP Trainer on providing this kind of feedback.

What are the working hours for Standardized Patients?

There are no fixed working hours for Standardized Patients. For every case, a minimum of 6 hours is required. The six hours include the training and the actual event and may be spread over two days or more. Hours will be clearly defined prior to each session.

Will there be any form of training?

There will be comprehensive training prior to all of the SP events. Standardized Patients undergo several hours of training prior to working with medical students. The amount of time spent training depends on the complexity of the case that the SP is expected to portray. For each case, a minimum of 3 hours is needed for training purposes. Training will be conducted at the Duke-NUS Clinical Performance Centre.

What happens during the actual interaction with the students?

The students will ask the Standardized Patients medical history questions relating to the scenario. You will able to answer them according to the script. During this encounter, you are expected to portray the case scenario consistently and as you were trained to portray it. In situations where the case requires a physical examination, the student may conduct a focused physical exam.

How are Standardized Patients selected?

As an SP, you will use a wide range of skills. You will need to role play and work with a varied group of people. Strong written and verbal communication skills are important. Flexibility, reliability and punctuality are also essential. Presently, we are only employing SPs who speak English as our training is conducted in English. A very basic level of computer proficiency is also required.

All interested individuals should complete the online application form. The application will be reviewed by the Clinical Performance Center staff, and an interview will be conducted with appropriate candidates. Approved applicants will be contacted when a suitable case scenario is available.