Standardized Patients

The Standardized Patient Program specializes in human simulation in healthcare.

The program recruits, trains, and supervises a large pool of human role players, otherwise known as simulated patients, standardized patients or SPs, who work on projects ranging from teaching in small-group settings to large-scale structured clinical exams.

A Standardized Patient is a healthy individual trained to portray a clinical problem or situation for the purpose of testing or teaching specific skills in the field of health care professionals.

Trained SPs are proxies for real patients and can represent their interests in teaching patient-centered care.

Why SPs rather than real patients?

SPs are better suited to the teaching and assessment process. Since SPs are healthy individuals, symptom presentation can remain stable and standardized. Levels of difficulty can be controlled and tailored to the level of learner being taught or assessed. SPs carry lower risk than real patients, since no inconvenience or discomfort is caused to real patients with real concerns. Finally, multiple SPs can be trained to portray the same case in a standardized way, allowing a large volume of learners to have the same experience and be individually and fairly assessed.

SPs are trained to give responses and portray symptoms that are consistent among SPs as well as consistent from one encounter to the next. Standardization is the concept of all of the portrayals of a case unfolding in a similar manner. SPs are also trained how to use their judgment on how to respond to unexpected questions. This enables us, as much as possible, to offer students a fair learning or assessment experience.

An OSCE is an Objective Structured Clinical Exam in which students rotate through a timed circuit of clinical cases. SPs are situated in clinic rooms and are examined or interviewed by a succession of individual students as they move through a circuit.

In Canada, there is a physician examiner in the room with the SP who marks the students on their performance.

All of our recruitment is done through Shiftboard, an online scheduling tool. If you are accepted into the program you will receive a Shiftboard orientation.

We select our recruitment lists carefully, depending on the requirements of the case and project. Not all SPs are suitable for all cases. We recruit SPs based on a case’s specific needs, which include age, gender, body type, physical attributes, acting ability, etc.

Most cases require two two-hour training sessions spaced a week apart. Sessions are usually scheduled for the two-week period preceding a project to ensure that information is retained.

Who can and can't be an SP?

We welcome healthy individuals between the ages of 16 and 80. Individuals with serious or numerous medical problems are not suitable for SP work. We cannot accept any pre-med or medical students.

What is the time commitment of being an SP?

Trainings happen between 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday. Exams take place on weekends.

How is SP work different from acting?

This work has nothing to do with finding dramatic moments or playing to an audience. It has everything to do with disciplining yourself within the needs of the case and the exam. It may be appropriate for you to appear anxious, irritable, or confused during an interview if that is part of the training scenario. When working as an SP it is important that you portray the case consistently for every student or candidate who interviews you.

Do the medical students know we are not real patients?

Yes, the students are aware that you are SPs and are told to proceed just as they would with real patients while doing their interviews and physicals. Working with SPs is a regular practice during medical school and therefore well understood by the students.

Do I need to be an actor to work as an SP?

No, though a background or interest in acting is an asset.

How often can I expect to be called for work?

Our needs vary based on the demographics needed for each project. We cannot guarantee any frequency of work.

Standardized Patient Program
MD Undergraduate Program
UBC Faculty of Medicine
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
2775 Laurel Street, 11th Floor
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
Tamara Chandon 
Team Lead | SP Trainer | Project Manager
(604) 875-4111 ext 22909


Kate Bateman 
SP Trainer | Project Manager
(604) 875-4111 ext 21489
Ella Simon
SP Trainer | Project Manager
(604) 875-4111 ext 62085
Alex Strong
SP Trainer | Project Manager
(604) 875-4111 ext 68765
Paul Ternes
SP Trainer | Project Manager
(604) 875-4111 ext 66873
Deanna Wong
SP Trainer | Project Manager
(604) 875-4111 ext 68792
Caitlin Mayne
SP Program Program Assistant
(604) 875-4111 ext 22962