Since an ideal way to replicate a human being is with a human being, many aspects of the real clinical world can be evoked using specially trained, professional actors to portray patients with particular health conditions or concerns. Because of their special training they are referred to as Standardized Patients or as an “SP”. The use of Standardized Patients (SPs) reflects NYMC’s commitment to patient safety, patient rights and medical excellence. Starting from their initial pre-clinical skills classes, students enjoy the advantage of a controlled environment in which to hone skills, both procedural and inter-personal, before encountering actual patients. SPs are able to give a consistent and pre-defined account of their condition and are required to answer a full spectrum of questions about themselves. This not only allows students or other learners to practice taking a medical history, perform a full or focused physical exam, and carry on a clinical conversations with patients portraying a variety of ailments, but students/learners also receive individualized verbal and written feedback from the SPs.
Standardized patients are required to regularly participate in rigorous training sessions with the Director of the Clinical Skills and Simulation Center. These curricular based sessions include a review of policies and procedures relevant to the entire teaching program and offer strict guidelines to support an effective learning environment. Additionally, SPs consistently work with course directors and other members of faculty on how to assess medical students using standardized teaching methods, relevant checklists, and effective verbal and written feedback. All activities at the center, including case portrayal and grading accuracy of the SPs, are strictly monitored for quality assurance. Additionally, every time a program occurs, a percentage of each SP's encounters and checklists are evaluated to ensure that they meet required inter/intra rater-reliability standards.