Standardized Patient (SP) Program

The Standardized Patient (SP) Program is an important part of the curriculum at ACOM. A Standardized Patient is a community member trained to act as a real patient in order to simulate a set of health care symptoms or problems. Portrayal of patient scenarios provide our medical students an opportunity to learn and practice health history-taking and physical exams skills.

Examples of Standardized Patient Interactions with students can include: 

  • Small group portrayals for history-taking trainings
  • Presentation of a detailed medical history
  • Undergoing a non-invasive physical examination.
  • Providing feedback that assists students with their communication and clinical skills.

ACOM’s SP program started in 2013. Our full-time program staff have many years of experience in the SP field. Our pool of talented SPs come from many walks of life—performing arts, education, health care, finance, fitness, and human services to name just a few. We are committed to recruiting SPs who represent a wide demographic range in terms of ethnicity, age, gender, LGBTQ+, body types and physical abilities.

The use of standardized patients provides opportunities for direct observation for education and assessment of doctor-patient interactions. The interactions also allow our students the ability to learn in a supportive environment, to become active listeners, to be more patient-oriented, and to be more aware of patient feelings and concerns.

Community members interested in participating in the development of future physicians can apply to become a Standardized Patient.

We are actively seeking standardized patients 18 years of age and above that will provide students with “real world” experiences as well as access to patients of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. These standardized patients are expected to:

  • work in a professional manner during all interactions.
  • have good memorization skills
  • have a friendly personality and positive attitude

No. ACOM does not require specialized training or acting experience to participate in the Standardized Patient program.

Some Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine events require the student and standardized patient encounters be videotaped or recoded to allow students opportunities to self-review their work and/or faculty to assess student performance. ACOM’s simulation center and performance exam suites are set-up for direct observation, wireless communication, as well.

ACOM’s standardized patient encounters align with curriculum taught to the first- and second-year medical students. Depending on the scenario being portrayed, standardized patients are selected based on case requirements such as age and gender. Being per diem employees, standardized patients are not guaranteed a set number of hours in a week or month.

Standardized Patients are paid $17.50/hour for all training and patient encounters.

ACOM’s Standardized Patient program accepts applications twice a year. (October-November and April-May)

During the time that the application process is open and the careers page will have a job posting for Standardized Patient Participant.

I joined the SP program a year after I retired. I thought it would be good to help and give back to the community. What I didn’t realize is how much it would help and give back to me. I have made so many new friends and I get to exercise my mental muscles with each script I memorize.  But the greatest benefit of this program is getting to interact with these bright, hardworking students. They have given me the greatest gift… hope for our future. If the ACOM students are any example of young people today…we are in very good hands.

Kathy M., Standardized Patient

It is rewarding knowing that I am helping a student to become a better doctor and to learn how to effectively communicate with patients. It has been a challenging experience for me to learn scripts and portray different roles. I have enjoyed getting to know people from all across the Wiregrass community.

Kim P., Standardized Patient

As Standardized Patients, we are the students first encounters with a Patient. Our responsibility is to learn our scripts and portray a real Patient for the students as they learn to take histories, do exams, and make a diagnosis. We are helping the students achieve their goal of becoming a doctor. I like being able to encourage the students. I also love the friendships that I have developed by working in the standardized patient program.

Dianne H., Standardized Patient

Being able to interact with the students by being a SP is so rewarding. I am able to help give our future Drs. another opportunity to learn.

Jessie J., Standardized Patient

I enjoy being a standardized patient because I understand how much my interactions with future physicians will help them in their medical practices. Second, I enjoy doing this is the support of the staff, they motivate you to “Act” at your best. Third, the feedback you give to the students and staff is useful. They take what you have to say during the encounter VERY seriously, and to me that shows the amount of professionalism and care they value from you as a standardized patient.

Angee S., Standardized Patient

I have been privileged to be a part of the Standardized Patient program at ACOM since nearly the beginning. During my time as a SP, I have worked closely with the students and the professional staff. To see the growth of the students and be a part of the caring staff at ACOM is an honor and I am thankful to be part in the preparation of these fine students in pursuit to becoming Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine.

Patrick D., Standardized Patient

My wife jokes with me that I moved from L.A. (Los Angeles – Hollywood) to L.A. (Lower Alabama) to become an actor.  That said, I really enjoy my “role” as a Standardized Patient at ACOM. I understand the importance of the students getting real life interactions to prepare for their career path.  I try to be well prepared for each encounter I participate in.  I believe that my being prepared will help the student better prepare to become Doctors.

Rex R., Standardized Patient

As a retired science teacher, I felt that I was not contributing to education anymore.  Then a friend told me about this program and I signed up.  I love it and when I see all these bright young faces, it makes me hopeful for tomorrow.

Sandy A., Standardized Patient

I signed up for the standardized patient program a few years ago not knowing what to expect. I was surprised by the ease of the program. I have enjoyed the ACOM staff I get to work with and look forward to sessions I can attend.  Re-connecting with other SPs that I haven’t seen in a while is another side benefit.  I really enjoy the exchange with the students during sessions.  The sessions make me look at the “world” with fresh eyes knowing that there is so much talent on the horizon and that the future is in good hands.

Janet W., Your Content Goes Here

Being a part of ACOM’s Standardized Patient program has been very satisfying. I feel like I’ve helped produce the next generation of doctors. Although the job is an important one, it is not  difficult. In fact it is quite fun. It has given me a purpose and helped to reinvigorate me. Plus being part of the SP community has produced several lasting friendships.

Patrick L., Standardized Patient

My husband and I were excited when we learned of opportunity be a small part of ACOM as a Specialized patient. We started in 2015 and found it to be a wonderful experience. Being retired it gave us an opportunity to be part of a new adventure. The joy of seeing the growth of the student from 1st year to graduation was/is wonderful. The staff, professors and students seem like family.

Floy S., Standardized Patient

The standardized patient program at ACOM is phenomenal. The students are amazing, the staff are always happy to help, and the SPs are like a family. I’ve gained invaluable information while performing various cases over the years that proved beneficial to either me, a friend or family member. It’s an honor to play a role in the next generation of osteopathic doctors. I can’t recommend this program enough, it’s fantastic!

Anna J., Standardized Patient