Standardized Patient (SP) Program

The Standardized Patient (SP) Program is an important part of the curriculum at ACOM. SPs play an integral role in helping students develop their clinical skills such as putting patients at ease, obtaining key aspects of medical history and recent symptoms, and developing clinical reasoning.

Standardized Patients (SPs) act out the part of a patient in specific clinical encounters to help students learn data gathering and practice physical examinations. SPs are trained to accurately and consistently portray physical findings and deliver medical information for given scenarios. SPs are periodically used in lectures for demonstrations and in lab sessions as the students learn how to do a physical and osteopathic structural exam.

Men and women of all ages and ethnic groups are needed to represent the wide variety of cases that are used to simulate different patient histories, personalities and symptoms. Acting experience is not necessary but a good short-term memory is required because SPs must perform consistently within their assigned roles. They may be asked to recall 10-20 aspects of their case during their encounters with our medical students and then, immediately after, accurately respond to a survey on student performance. Since this information is often recorded electronically, basic computer skills are required. In addition, SPs need to feel comfortable in front of video cameras, since most encounters are recorded.

During an interaction with a student the SP may:

  • present case history in response to questioning by the student
  • undergo a limited physical examination at the student’s direction
  • assist students in developing their communication and clinical skills
  • prepare students in working with a diverse group of patients
  • assist students in working through difficult emotional situations in a safe environment

Once ACOM faculty select cases for a training or testing event, criteria such as age, gender, race, and physical and personality characteristics are considered in the selection SPs from our registry. This carefully selected set of SPs are then presented with a patient case/script and brought into the center for training and role-playing.

SPs are paid $17.50 per hour for training and for their work. Some projects requiring more experience and skills are paid at a higher rate. SPs are employed on a per diem basis and are not offered benefits. ACOM cannot guarantee work beyond that agreed to on a single project basis.

ACOM is continually accepting applications for the Standardized Patient Program to build its pool of patient actors. To apply for the program, please click the application link below.  All fields denoted with a red asterisk are required. ACOM will review your application and then contact you regarding the Standardized Patient Program orientation. If you have any questions about the application process, please contact;

Danielle Ferguson, RN, Coordinator of Simulation & Standardized Patient Program,

(334) 944-4035


Click to Apply