Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a standardized patient at UCLA?

If you're interested in auditioning to become a Standardized Patient at UCLA, please visit our Becoming an SP page.

What are the responsibilities of a standardized patient (SP)?

We value the commitment and dedication of our diverse team of Standardized Patients (SPs), as they play a crucial role in shaping the future of healthcare professionals and most importantly, the care their patients will receive.

SPs are people who have been trained to portray the symptoms, personality traits, and other characteristics of a real patient, but in a way that is consistent with all other SPs portraying the same patient. Their responsibilities include memorizing specific patient personas, performing roles during live scenarios and/or recordings with learners, providing relevant medical history and symptoms during sessions, and undergoing physical examinations during simulations. Additionally, SPs offer constructive feedback to learners about the quality of their interactions, helping them enhance their interpersonal skills.

Some specific duties and responsibilities of our SPs include:

  • Understanding the importance of punctuality and reliability, as classes and exams are time-sensitive and depend on the SP's commitment.
  • Memorizing specific patient details, including detailed medical history, relevant symptoms, and personal information such as marital/family status, work status and other aspects of the patient’s social history.
  • Accurately portraying the patient's physical condition and emotional state during scenarios.
  • Providing written and verbal feedback to learners about the completeness and quality of the interaction, usually focusing on interpersonal skills.
  • Undergoing limited physical examinations, which may include procedures like pulse checks, listening to heart/lungs, tapping or pressing on the abdomen, back or other parts of the body, blood pressure monitoring, and other routine medical exams. This may involve limited exposure of undergarments and repeated touching of non-intimate body parts (arms, legs, abdomen, back, etc.)

While physical exams are an important part of what we do, we have many events that require no physical exam whatsoever. As such, we do have some availability within our SP pool for people who opt out of being involved with physical exams.

Highly sensitive exams such as pelvic, rectal, or breast exams will not be conducted on SPs.

While previous acting experience is valued, it is not a prerequisite. We encourage community members of all backgrounds, regardless of previous acting experience, to apply.

Who can request an SP?

Our SPs may be requested by members of UCLA Health, DGSOM, School of Nursing and affiliated institutions for the purposes of medical education, including scenario-based simulation sessions and procedural skills training.

How do I request an SP?

Visit Requesting a Standardized Patient or go straight to our Sim Request Portal for details.

How much does it cost to book an SP?

SP rates are:

  • $32/hour for at-home preparation, training/rehearsal, and live performances
  • $115/hour for filming, recording or any other work that will be part of enduring material

For further details, see our Sim Request Portal.

How do standardized patients benefit learners?

Simulation with SPs is a valuable tool in medical education, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and hands-on clinical practice, leading to more confident, skilled, and empathetic healthcare professionals. Standardized Patient simulation offers numerous benefits to learners in medical education:

  • Realistic Patient Interaction: SPs provide a lifelike representation of diverse patient scenarios, allowing learners to practice their clinical skills in a controlled, low-risk environment.
  • Safe Learning Environment: Learners can make mistakes and learn from them without jeopardizing real patients' well-being. This fosters real growth in confidence and competence.
  • Improvement of Communication Skills: SP interactions enhance learners' ability to effectively communicate with real patients, a critical aspect of providing quality healthcare.
  • Enhanced Clinical Competency: By working with SPs, learners refine their history-taking, physical examination, and diagnostic skills, leading to improved patient care.
  • Cultural Sensitivity and Empathy: SP simulations expose learners to a wide range of cultural, emotional, and socio-economic backgrounds, promoting empathy and cultural competence.
  • Feedback and Reflection: Post-simulation debriefings provide valuable feedback from SPs, peers, and faculty, facilitating reflection and continuous improvement.
  • Standardized Assessment: SP scenarios can be standardized, allowing for consistent evaluation of learners' performance, optimizing fairness in assessments.
  • Exposure to Diverse Clinical Scenarios: Learners encounter a wide spectrum of medical conditions and patient types, broadening their clinical exposure, knowledge base, critical thinking skills and decision-making abilities.
  • Preparation for Complex Scenarios: Learners can practice handling challenging or high-stakes situations, such as delivering difficult diagnoses or managing emergencies.