Washington University School of Medicine seeks a diverse pool of actors and educators to portray Standardized Patients

Website URL Washington University School of Medicine Standardized Patient Program

Educating the doctors of tomorrow.

Washington University School of Medicine is seeking BIPOC actors and educators of all ages and genders for their Standardized/Simulated Patient Program. If you live in the Saint Louis area, have reliable transportation, are in good health, and have a flexible weekday schedule you could become a part of our educational program! This is a part-time position that pays $15 – $20/hr.

Auditions are on September 14th and 16th via Zoom. Auditions are by invitation only and invited candidates are required to attend one of the two sessions offered on those dates (either 10am – 12pm or 12pm – 2pm).  Attendance is mandatory for consideration.

Please submit your headshot and resume to Suki Lammers (lammerss@wustl.edu) no later than September 7th.

Description: A Standardized or Simulated Patient (SP) is an individual trained to portray the personal history, physical symptoms, emotional characteristics, and everyday concerns of an actual patient (other than themselves), during mock provider-patient encounters for the training and assessment of students. The SP is responsible for documenting the events in the encounter in a computerized checklist and is trained to provide constructive written and verbal feedback, from the patient’s perspective, to further enrich the relationship between (learner) healthcare provider and (simulated) patient. SPs are a dynamic educational tool used for a variety of settings such as interactive teaching environments, group demonstrations, clinical examinations, videos, or portrayals customized to meet the learner’s needs. People who make the best SPs typically enjoy performing, are observant, are good listeners, have strong communication skills, and are punctual and reliable.

We typically only recruit and hire new SPs once a year. Candidates are hired based on the upcoming casting needs of our year-round educational courses.


Who are our Standardized Patients?
* A diverse roster of 100+ people representing a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds encompassing a wide range of ages.
* People with flexible daytime weekday schedules who have an interest in educating the future of health care.
* Unbiased, emotionally mature, and reliable people who understand the importance of their contribution to health professions.
* Theatre and film actors and other individuals who have the skill sets necessary to meet the challenges of acting in a variety of scenarios.
* Ability to memorize a large amount of information and portray it accurately in a consistent and measurable way while correctly observing and evaluating the learner’s behavior and technique.
* Those who understand and can appreciate the value of both giving and receiving immediate, ongoing, descriptive feedback in an instructional and non-threatening manner, reinforcing positive as well as improvable aspects of a learner’s performance.

Things you should know about being an SP:
You may be tasked with portraying cases with issues such as back pain, abdominal pain, depression, or emotionally charged situations such as domestic abuse or the death of a child.
Professional, experienced, or student actors preferred. Note: This work has nothing to do with finding dramatic moments, entertaining, or playing to an audience. It can be repetitive; the same “patient” must be presented for every student. This work is confidential, and you will not be permitted to share this material publicly.

This paid position offers no benefits. SPs work on a temporary, as-needed/by project basis (i.e. this is not a steady income). Some SPs may work a few times a year to several times a month.
No invasive procedures will be performed or experimental medications given.
The SP Center is accessible by the Metro Link rail line.

Requirements: *Basic computer skills, and regular access to email required. *Headshot (or recent photo) and resume (performance and/or professional). *Available weekdays during business hours (sessions are typically held during the hours of 10:00am-6:30pm), and able to commit to 6-12 months of work/training with the program. *Be at least 20 years of age and comfortable with your own health. *Minimum high school degree preferred.

Group audition interview invitations will be decided on an individual basis after receiving your headshot and resume. We have been fortunate to have a large amount of interest in our program. We are not able to employ all of the talented individuals who contact us. We recruit and hire new SPs only once a year.

If selected to come to auditions, you will be required to complete an application and sign a Consent and Non-disclosure Agreement regarding photography, videotaping, cases, and protocols that are used if you are hired. When completing the application, please understand that providing your information is similar in many ways to submitting your headshot and resume to an acting agency. When a project or “casting request” calls for a particular type of patient, we search our database of participants who fit the type requested. In order to know how well you fit the casting call, our Standardized/Simulated Patient application asks you to answer questions about your physical characteristics and medical history. We cannot, for instance, ask an SP who has delivered children by cesarean section to realistically play the role of a woman who has never had children. Her abdominal scars would take away from the realism of the case. All application information is kept confidential.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How much does it pay?
The pay scale is as follows: Training session $15/hour
History session $15/hour (Dress in street clothes, no physical contact – only Q & A.)
History and limited Physical: $20/hour. (Dress in a hospital gown, basic physical exam contact from the learner. For example, the learner will check your pulse, blood pressure, reflexes, listen to the heart and lungs.)

What is a Standardized Patient/Simulated? A standardized/simulated patient or “SP” is an individual trained to portray a specific patient case in a consistent manner. The standardized/simulated patient is trained to present not just the history of a patient but also the body language, emotions, personality, and physical findings. During an interaction with a learner, the SP presents the case history in response to questioning by the learner and/or undergoes physical examinations at the learner’s direction. Each SP encounter is designed to assess skills appropriate to both the SP’s and the learner’s level of training. The idea of Standardized/Simulated Patients began in 1964, when Howard S. Barrows MD, neurologist and medical educator at the University of Southern California, introduced the idea of a programmed patient. These patients, which later became known as standardized or simulated patients, were carefully coached to simulate an actual patient so accurately that the simulation could not be detected by a skilled clinician. Medical students must now complete a 12 patient SP exam as a part of the national board examination in order to become a doctor.

Who are the Standardized Patients at Washington University School of Medicine?
Our SPs come from all walks of life and are between 20-80 years of age. Many have backgrounds in education or theater. All possess excellent communication skills, a flexible schedule, transportation, and are reliable. While SPs are paid for training and working with learners, most find that their motivation to become part of the Standardized Patient Program comes from a desire to assist in the training of excellent physicians.

Who are the students/learners?
SPs primarily work with WU medical students in their 1st-4th years of school. We at times also work with students from nursing, pharmacy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, as well as experienced, licensed doctors and nurses.

How much will I work?
SPs work on a by-project basis and may work a few times a year to a few times a month. There is no guarantee of work beyond that agreed to on a single project basis. This employment offers no benefits.

Do the learners know SPs are not real patients?
Yes, they are aware that SPs are actors. They are told to proceed just as they would with a real patient in the hospital or clinic while doing an interview and/ or physical examination.

Why do you need Standardized Patients? I thought learners learned on real patients? WUSM learners do work with real patients in supervised clinical experiences. However, SPs provide valuable feedback that learners don’t get anywhere else, and offer a safe, controlled learning environment essential to learners in preparation for real patient encounters. Some things are better done with SPs. For example, one SP can be seen by many different doctors. With each doctor, SPs can behave as though they were seeing a doctor for the first time about their problem. This allows all learners the same chance to show their skills, allowing a fair exam for everyone. That’s why the patient is referred to as “standardized.”

How do SPs know what to say to the learner?
SPs will be trained to portray the patient scripts we assign to you. We create a complete history for SPs to learn. This includes the reason the patient is coming to see the doctor, the patient’s past medical history, and social details such as the patient’s job, family, and activities. We also describe the patient’s emotional state when seeing the doctor. Some projects provide learners with the opportunity to practice delivery of serious and difficult-to-hear information, such as the death of a loved one or likelihood of recovery before they have to deliver such news to real patients. Training may include learning to simulate physical symptoms, like abdominal pain, back pain, fatigue, stroke, or heart attack. We would also train the SP how to move like the patient, and how to react to the physical examination. For example, if portraying someone with back pain, we would show you where it would hurt and what you could or could not do because of your bad back. Through our training process, you would learn to become that person and to speak to the doctor just as that patient would. You will also be trained to give written or verbal feedback after being interviewed or examined, allowing the learner to hear constructive feedback from the patient he/she just interviewed or examined.

That sounds like acting. Do I have to be an actor?
Many of our SPs are professional or very experienced actors, but we also look for those who have a public speaking or an educational background. There are similarities to what SPs and actors do, but there are differences, too. This work has nothing to do with finding dramatic moments or playing to an audience. It has everything to do with disciplining yourself physically and sometimes emotionally within the needs of the case and the exam. It can be repetitive since the same must be done for every examinee in a consistent way. Remember, too, that the cases must remain confidential. You would not be permitted to use the material in any public or private performance or to include your patient’s name on your resume.

Will I undergo a physical exam or have to remove my clothing?
Yes. SPs undergo common medical physical examinations, done on real patients in a doctor’s office. For example, learners may listen to your heart and lungs with a stethoscope; press on your abdomen, look into your eyes, ears, and throat; take your blood pressure; assess your muscle strength; check your reflexes; or check your pulses. If the learners are expected to perform a physical examination, you will wear a hospital gown (along with undergarments and shorts underneath.) The cases that require physical examinations are clearly outlined for SPs prior to their agreement to participate in them. For cases that require no physical examination, SPs wear their own street clothes that are appropriate for the patient character.

I’m not sure if I want to participate in the physical exam sessions, am I still eligible for the program?
Maybe. We prefer SPs who are versatile and willing to participate in the basic history and physical sessions because these are the most common sessions offered. You can observe a physical examination (PE) session before you decide to participate. We would never ask you to participate in a session in which you might be uncomfortable.

Is this like being a research subject?
No. Medical research subjects are given drugs or are placed on certain diets in order to study their reactions. We are testing the medical learners, not the patients. We use SPs to simulate situations for the learners, typically: meeting a patient for the first time in a clinic or emergency department, interviewing the patient about his/her medical problem, and doing a physical examination. The learners are evaluated on what they do during these encounters. *Standardized Patients do NOT: Act as medical test subjects; you will not be asked to take any experimental medicines; none of the examinations involve taking blood or other samples.

Please send a headshot or recent photo and resume:
Email to: lammerss@wustl.edu
No phone calls, please.
More info on the program: http://outlook.wustl.edu/2014/apr/standardized-patients


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