Standardized patient practices: initial report on the survey of US and Canadian medical schools

Med Educ Online. 2009 Jun 29:14:7. doi: 10.3885/meo.2009.F0000208.


Background: There is currently a lack of information about the ways in which standardized patients (SPs) are used, how programs that facilitate their use are operated, the ways in which SP-based performance assessments are developed, and how assessment quality is assured. This survey research project was undertaken to describe the current practices of programs delivering SP-based instruction and/or assessment.

Method: A structured interview of 61 individual SP programs affiliated with the Association of Standardized Patient Educators (ASPE) was conducted over a 7-month period. A web-based data entry system was used by the 11 trained interviewers.

Results: The two most common reported uses of SPs were learner performance assessment (88% of respondents) and small-group instruction (84% of respondents). Fifty-four percent of programs hired 51-100 SPs annually and paid an average of $15 and $16 per hour for training time and portraying a case, respectively. The average reported number of permanent program employees, excluding SPs and temporary staff, was 4.8 (sd = 3.6). The most frequently reported salary range was $30,001-$45,000.

Conclusion: We intend for these preliminary results to inform the medical education community about the functions of SPs and the structures of programs that implement these complex educational endeavors.

Keywords: Standardized patient; educational activities; methodology; survey; training program.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Data Collection
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Education, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Patient Simulation*
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits
  • Schools, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Teaching / methods*
  • United States