Background: With the growing use of standardized patients (SPs) in medical teaching and evaluation, a new occupation has emerged-that of SP.
Method: The effect of simulating was discussed in five focus groups with randomly chosen SPs from the SP program at the McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences in 1993. Meeting transcripts were content analyzed and reviewed by the SPs to ensure that the data were trustworthy.
Results: Of the SPs invited to attend a focus group, 37 of 59 (63%) attended. The SPs stated that their role is complex and requires improvising while simultaneously monitoring the learner's performance to later provide detailed feedback. The SPs reported that they developed a more balanced view of health professionals, developed better communication skills, and became more tolerant of others. The role allowed them to explore how they reacted in novel situations, which enabled them to learn more about themselves.
Conclusion: The SPs described numerous effects of the SP role on their lives. Greater attention should be paid to how SPs are selected and debriefed.