Case Writing Suggestions

This comprehensive case template has been developed to assist you in case writing.  Fill in the relevant sections – don’t feel the need to complete every blank, just those that apply to this particular case and to your leaning objectives.

When developing a case to use with a standardized patient consider the following suggestions:

  1. Choose cases that have limited physical findings or ones that can be simulated.  Remember that a wide variety of abnormal findings can be simulated.  Talk to the staff for details and ideas – you might be surprised at what SPs are capable of!
  2. SPs are instructed to answer “no” to any question for which they’ve not been given a specific answer.  To simplify the case for the SPs please leave out negatives - pertinent and otherwise.
  3. If you choose a case with abnormal physical findings that cannot be simulated, “abnormal findings” cards can be used.  In this situation, if the learner performs the physical assessment maneuver correctly, the SP will present the learner with a card describing the abnormal physical findings.  In no instance should more than three “abnormal findings” cards be used.
  4. “Abnormal findings” cards are disruptive to the reality of the situation so minimize their use.
  5. Do not use cards to describe normal findings – it’s easy for the staff to cast an SP with normal findings.
  6. Write scenarios in which the learner is meeting the patient for the first time.  It doesn’t work well to expect the learner to pretend they have a prior relationship with the patient.
  7. Avoid scenarios in which the patient is expected to perform tasks that would not normally be part of a patient’s role (such as giving back lab results, etc.).
  8. When constructing checklists, avoid physical exam items involving “inspection” as it is difficult to tell when a learner is inspecting something vs. simply looking without actually inspecting.