Standardized Patients

A standardized patient (SP) is an individual who portrays a patient with a specific health condition in a realistic, standardized and repeatable way.  SPs are used for teaching and assessment of learners including, but not limited to, history/consultation, physical examination and other clinical skills in simulated clinical environments.  SPs are also used to give feedback and assess student performance.

The following characteristics are important to be a successful SP:

  • Accuracy in memorization of case details,
  • Ability to follow instructions and make adjustments,
  • Ability to realistically portray a patient,
  • Ability to remember what the learner asked/did and accurately complete a checklist recording the same,
  • Ability to portray various levels of pain, anxiety, etc.
  • Ability to provide constructive, professional verbal feedback to learners.

Standardized patients play a wide variety of roles at Emory.  These may include having a heart attack, experiencing abdominal pain, hearing that you have a fatal illness, being an abused spouse, getting a laceration sutured (a fake piece of skin is used), having a seizure, getting physical therapy, having an ultrasound performed on you or learning you are HIV positive.

With the use of SPs, learners have a safe environment in which to learn and practice their skills.  SPs provide an important role in the education of future health care practitioners and they can feel good about the work they do in medical education.


To be eligible to be a Standardized Patient in the Clinical Skills Center, applicants must be available Monday through Friday during the workday (generally 7:30 am – 6 PM) to work in 4 ½ to 9-hour increments.  Specifically, candidates must have full mornings, full afternoons or full days free to accommodate Emory’s scheduling needs.

Emory employees (and students who receive a financial aid or work study check from Emory) are generally not eligible to work as standardized patients.  Please contact us for additional information about this.

Applicants must have no other commitments that preclude them working with all learners and all events in the School of Medicine.

How Does One Become A Standardized Patient?

The Clinical Skills Center holds auditions periodically as needed, usually at least once per year. If you are interested in being notified of the next audition, please complete the Application and submit it, along with a headshot or photo, to Gina Shannon at

There are several components to our audition process including some or all of the following: a phone interview, an online questionnaire, an onsite audition, a sample portrayal of a case, and finally a call-back. These activities allow for a thorough assessment of fit for the program. All potential hires must pass a criminal background check.

Please be aware that we do not audition all age & gender groups each time as we strive to keep a balance of ages and genders and only add SPs where needed to maintain this. Once your application is received we will store it and notify you the next time we are auditioning your gender and age group.

Once hired, SPs will attend a mandatory day-long orientation, for which they will be paid. After that, SPs work on an independent contract basis, as needed to fill our events. Regular work is not guaranteed.

SP Forms